If you are a new organisation or have not used volunteers before, here are some of the things you need to think about.
- Identify the need for volunteers
- Why you want volunteers. How will they help your organisation?
- What roles or tasks do you want volunteers to undertake?
- How many volunteers will you need?
Once you have identified tasks then you can begin writing a role / task description, as this will help you to explain to volunteers what you need them to do. The description can be flexible and should be reviewed as the role develops.
- Involve staff and other stakeholders
Discuss with trustees, staff and others in the organisation about your ideas on setting up a volunteer programme. Sometimes staff /trustees are sceptical about the benefits volunteers can bring, or are concerned they will take too much time and work or even that they will eventually replace paid roles. By discussing your ideas for volunteer involvement with those in the organisation at an early stage, you should be able to put their fears to rest, and demonstrate to them that volunteers, rather than being a hindrance, can actually be of huge benefit, not just to the organisation, but to its end users and the wider community too.
- Practical issues
- Are you able to accommodate volunteers?
- Is there enough space, do you have enough and / or the right equipment
- Introducing volunteers into cramped accommodate can cause friction (depending on their role) so check you can accommodate volunteers.
- Design and plan your volunteer programme
It will be useful for you and your organisation to have a framework in place for your volunteer programme. This needs to include:
- A volunteer policy and a volunteer handbook
- Information about the organisation and role of volunteers within it
- Information on your recruitment and selection procedures
- Relevant policies and procedures related to induction, volunteer expenses, health and safety, insurance cover, monitoring and evaluation
- Information about the support and supervision that is provided to volunteers, any training that is required and/or available
- How much will it cost and do you have enough resources in place?
Volunteers give their time for free, however it is unfair to expect them to be out-of-pocket for the volunteering they do for your organisation. Therefore it is good to have a budget to cover volunteer expenses. You also need to think about what other costs your organisation will incur to fully involve volunteers. This can include:
- Training for the volunteer co-ordinator/ manager and volunteers to allow them to fulfil their role.
- Publicity materials for recruiting volunteers. Consider what different formats you would use.
- The cost of staff time for administration for processing application forms, producing recruitment materials, contacting volunteers, supporting and supervising volunteers etc.