Involving volunteers in your organisation takes time, thought and energy.
It also leads to a certain amount of paperwork. So what do you need and what is the best way to organise it?
A volunteer policy
A volunteer policy is the best place to start. It is the core policy that states why you are involving volunteers in your organisation and how you will do that. You can link it to other relevant policies such as health and safety, equal opportunities etc.
Your volunteer policy helps everyone involved to know where they stand. Providing guidelines for how volunteers will be treated helps to support fairness and consistency.
Each organisation’s volunteer policy will be different, but might contain:
- Why you are involving volunteers in your work
- Principles of volunteer recruitment and the application process
- Induction and training
- Support and supervision
- Resolving problems
When you refer to other policies you must make sure that they clearly state that they apply to volunteers as well as employees and to outline any differences. Linked policies might include:
Health and safety – organisations with fewer than five employees are not obliged to have a written policy, but are strongly advised to do so. If an organisation involves volunteers, they should be included in the health and safety policy as a matter of good practice. See the Health and Safety Executive website (www.hse.gov.uk) for model policies.
Equal opportunities – an equal opportunities policy or diversity statement (or similar) sets out the approach you will take to promote equality, dignity and respect and to prevent discrimination, bullying or harassment.
Confidentiality – how to deal with personal and sensitive information.
Insurance – what are volunteers likely to be asked to do and what are the possible risks and liabilities?
Safeguarding – what are the procedures for working with children and vulnerable adults? Ensure that your organisation has practices in place to help staff and volunteers to perform their roles safely.
ITC usage – sets out individuals’ responsibilities when using the organisation’s internet access and equipment such as computers and phones.
A volunteer handbook
This has helpful day-to-day information for your volunteers. Your volunteer policy might outline what expenses will be reimbursed, but the volunteer handbook will contain a claim form, how to fill it out and the name of who to give it to.
Volunteer handbooks can back up the information that volunteers are given during their induction such as:
- Background and aims of the organisation
- A map of any premises
- Their volunteer role description and role agreement
- How to use any relevant equipment
- Who’s who and what they do
- How to claim expenses
- Health and safety information
- Who will help and supervise them
- An outline of any problem-solving procedures
Rather than overwhelming people with formal language and detail the handbook could tell volunteers what policies exist, why they might need to know about them and where they can find them.