Volunteer Management


The proper management of volunteers within community not-for-profit organisations involves various operations.

It is advised to begin with planning the requirements for a volunteer program. Planning is essential for the success of any volunteer program and involves:

  • Gaining support for the program
  • Developing applicable policies and procedures
  • Designing volunteer positions
  • Educating others in the organisation about involving volunteers

Once these factors have been considered a solid foundation is created to support the organisation's volunteer program.

Volunteer Coordinator

It's also necessary to ensure a member of the organisation's committee is responsible for the volunteers. Working closely with senior management, the volunteer coordinator's work could include:

  • Assessment and prioritisation of staff requests for volunteer assistance
  • Development of volunteer job descriptions
  • Advertisement of positions
  • Screening of applications
  • Volunteer orientation and training
  • Management a staff/volunteer relations
  • Development and review of the organisation's volunteer policies and procedures
  • Supervision, evaluation and formal recognition of volunteer contributions.

Job Descriptions

Clear job descriptions need to be written for each volunteer position. Committee members must be involved in developing and approve all positions.

Well-crafted position descriptions for each approved job will assist the organisation to:

  • Set the criteria for selection and placement of applying volunteers
  • Understand the scope responsibilities and limitations of the work
  • Put in place appropriate screening measures for applicants
  • Develop necessary training materials
  • Establish standards for performance in supervising and evaluating volunteers, including grounds for possible termination
  • Develop means to recognize and reward volunteer effort

To provide volunteers with a challenge and the motivation for continued success, each position description should include an explanation of the program's desired outcomes and the volunteer's role in helping the organisation achieve them. Specific skill sets and experience required for each position must be identified. It also important to specify the location, time commitment and expected duration of the project.

Volunteer staff, just like paid staff, need clear, accurate and current descriptions of the work that they are expected to do. All volunteer positions should have their own position descriptions, which need to be reviewed at least once every year, or whenever the nature of the work changes substantially.

A good job description would include the following:

  • A brief summary of the mission and major activities of the entire organisation.
  • A description of the purpose and duties of the advertised volunteer position, including the actual task/s that the volunteer is expected to perform.
  • Areas of accountability.
  • Supervisor and lines of authority
  • Duration of the position.
  • Expected time commitment each week/month etc.
  • Workplace location.
  • Skills required/preferred.