This is the place to start. Before thinking about policies or even what the volunteers might do, the first question is ‘Why?’ The ‘Why’ is a reference point for the rest of your volunteer programme. It explains what will be achieved through involving volunteers, over and above the specific tasks that they might undertake.   

Involving volunteers can: 
  • Enable your organisation to reach more people, or offer more support or services to your users 
  • Help you engage with hard-to-reach clients 
  • Bring fresh perspectives, energy and enthusiasm  
  • Raise awareness of your cause and help to promote what you do 
  • Bring diversity which enriches the organisation 
  • Bring a variety of skills, experience and enthusiasm - particularly valuable for smaller organisations that may not be able to pay for such expertise 
Plan ahead before recruiting volunteers:  

When considering involving volunteers, it is important to consult with staff and any existing volunteers (if you have them) to help identify roles and tasks that need doing. Trustees/committee members should know you are starting up (or extending) a volunteering programme, too.  

The answers to the following questions will help all your stakeholders consider how you are going to involve volunteers. 

  • Do you have appropriaterolesfor volunteers to do? (hyperlink - role description page) You don’t need a full role description yet – just an idea of what volunteers might do. 
  • Do you have the resources to offer support and supervision to volunteers and, if possible,volunteer expenses? (hyperlink – volunteer expenses) 
  • What are the benefits to the volunteers of volunteering with you?  
  • What are the benefits to your organisation – short and long term? Think through how volunteer involvement contributes to your overall aims and objectives  
  • How will you evaluate whether or not your investment in volunteers is paying off?  
  • What are the resource and cost implications?  
  • Whatsupport structureswill need to be in place? 
What and by whom 

The success of your volunteering programme is dependent on a supportive and well-structured volunteer involvement plan. You need to consider: 

  • Who willrecruit the volunteers? (hyperlink recruiting volunteers) 
  • Who will manage the volunteers when they are working for you? 
  • How will you resource this? Do you have or will you need to find funding for a dedicated, paid Volunteer Coordinator? 

It is very important to make sure that staff have enough time to dedicate to this task and clear guidelines of how to do it.  

Whoever is coordinating the volunteers should be responsible for: 

  • Planning the volunteerrecruitment process: for example, finalising the volunteerrole description, etc. 
  • Initial contact with volunteers. 
  • Making sure that, when they are unavailable, there is another member of staff who will take over the role of ‘’named person’’. 
  • Ensuring that volunteers are prepared andtrainedfor their role. 
  • Ensuring there is adequatesupport and supervisionof volunteers (although they do not have to be directly responsible for the support and supervision of all the organisation’s volunteers). 
  • Ensure that the volunteer’s voice is heard within the organisation. 
Getting the most from your volunteers 

Volunteering is most likely to work well if: 

  • Your organisation has the capacity to manage the volunteers you welcome.  
  • You have clear reasons for involving volunteers 
  • You are prepared to spend time acknowledging and recognising what the volunteers contribute.  
  • Trustees, managers, staff, volunteers and service users understand why volunteers are there, and appreciate what they bring 
  • The roles of volunteers are clearly defined so that paid staff do not feel undermined or threatened and volunteers feel secure about what they are doing 
  • Your organisation has a culture that values the involvement of volunteers and allocates resources to support them properly 
  • You have something to offer volunteers, for example the chance to make a real difference, a great training programme, getting out in the fresh air, learning new skills, staying active, meeting new people, a change of direction, a sense of satisfaction.  
Next steps.  

When you have your plan together, developing aVolunteering Policy  will help you pull everything you need together.