Section 1.  

Welcome Letter / Introduction  

The welcome letter is an opportunity for your organisation to create an inviting environment for your volunteers and to explain their critical role in the fulfilment of your mission. It also sets the tone for the relationship between your volunteers and staff.  

The welcome letter is a good way to highlight how much you value your volunteers and to thank them for their commitment and efforts. 

Section 2.  

Organisational Information 

In order for volunteers to feel like they are an important part of your organisation, they need to know something about it. In this section, you will be describing the history, mission, and vision of your organisation – where you’ve been, who you are, and what you’re planning to do next. The goal of this section is to encourage your volunteers to take ownership of your mission, vision, and goals. 

What the section includes:  

  • Organisational history and background  
  • Mission (It’s easier for volunteers to uphold your mission if they have a clear conception of what it is.)  
  • Vision  
  • Core Values  

Section 3.  

Volunteer Information  

Volunteers need to understand how they fit into your organisation and how they can help to further your mission. It’s also important for everyone to have the same, shared expectations about the volunteer process.  

What the section includes:  

  • Mission, Vision, Goals for Volunteer Involvement  
  • What the Volunteer Should Expect from the Organisation 
  • What the Organisation Should Expect from the Volunteer 

Keep expectations positive, realistic, and straightforward. Don’t list anything that you can’t follow through with. This section can be a helpful resource if you or one of your volunteers has concerns later on. 

Section 4.   

Volunteer policies and procedures: 

It is critical that you have policies and procedures in place that minimize potential problems that could arise. Policies and procedures give volunteers the information and structure they need to feel confident in their role, especially when they are just getting started.   

  • Expenses 
  • Health and safety including lone working and driving  
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion  
  • Keeping data safe / confidentiality 
  • Keeping everyone safe / Safeguarding  
  • Cash handling (for fundraising / retail roles)  
  • Reward and recognition  
  • Supervision and support - volunteers must know who to reach out to when they encounter challenges on the job or need additional support 
  • Induction and training  
  • Insurance cover  
  • Problem solving  
  • Moving on / resignation  
  • DBS checks  
  • Representing the organisation  
  • Other ways to get involved 

Section 5.  

Useful information about the organisation 

This section is a place to include additional information about working with your organisation that is not covered in other sections. Every organisation has its own culture or way of operating, volunteers will feel more comfortable if you are transparent about how things work. Some potential things to include:  

  • Commonly used terms and explanation of abbreviations 
  • Staff structure  
  • Parking  
  • Building access 
  • Opening hours and holidays  

Top Tips 

  • Keep it clear and concise:Using short, clear instructions is helpful for holding volunteers’ attention and helping them remember details. 
  • Consider a mandatory signoff:Do volunteers need to sign off to indicate they have read and understood the handbook? Implementing this requirement helps create volunteer accountability. 
  • Make it relevant:Make surethe volunteers know how the policies and guidelines apply to them. Communicating only essential information makes it more likely volunteers will remember and use what they read. 
  • Use a professional-looking format and template:Give your handbook a polished appearance that represents your organization professionally and makes volunteers proud to work with you. 
  • Use easy-to-read fonts and colours:Making your handbook readable is essential. If it’s easy on the eyes, volunteers are more likely to read it and return to it when they have questions. 
  • Include a table of contents and page numbers: Including these elements makes it easy for volunteers to find the specific information they need. 
  • Create customized sections:Consider creating a standard handbook and then customizing certain sections based on the volunteers’ roles. That way, volunteers know which part to turn to for specific details and can skip irrelevant information. 
  • Include a glossary:Consider adding a glossary if you commonly use acronyms or other terms people may not be familiar with. This can help volunteers take ownership of their learning by looking up meanings for themselves. 

Accessibility

As a general rule, use a font that is easy to read for individuals with dyslexia, such as Arial or Comic Sans. As well as a standard format, you might consider providing the information in a large print format, printing it on yellow paper (for individuals with dyslexia), having it translated into other commonly used languages, and/or offer help by going through it with a new volunteer. 

Include examples