What will your volunteers do?

What will your volunteers do?

It’s important to be clear about the role or task that you are asking people to volunteer to do.

It’s also important to understand that volunteers are not “unpaid employees”. Volunteers give their time to do something useful, without getting paid (apart from expenses). Because their time is a gift, they are not legally bound to your organisation and cannot be compelled to do specific tasks. Involving volunteers as an alternative to paying employees is exploitation. Volunteer work and paid work are essentially different.

Volunteering is a two-way deal.

Volunteers will do something that your organisation needs if it is interesting, stimulating or rewarding for them. Being a volunteer needs to be a positive experience and the first step is to be clear about their role.

Start with a volunteer role or task description (NOT a job description as that suggests an employment relationship). Simply outline what the volunteer will do and any skills that might be needed.

Think about:

  • Name of role – does it sound interesting?
  • Purpose of the role
  • Outline of tasks
  • Where the tasks will be carried out
  • The skills, qualities and experience needed
  • The commitment required
  • What supervision, support and training volunteers will need

Think about how you can make the role open to as many people as possible. Could people with physical disabilities be volunteers? Or people who need extra support, such as someone with dyslexia or someone who speaks English as a second language?

Some roles might have specific requirements, for example a counselling service might only need male counsellors or someone who speaks a certain language.

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