Funder by the Department of Human Services Auspiced by Our Community

Help Sheet

Getting your CDI ready to receive volunteers

Volunteers can be very useful to the work of community groups and organisations. They can bring program and administrative support, community resources, information and potential donors and they can advocate for your cause in the community.

Volunteering is also something from which people can get new skills and enjoyment.

Think about the type of work you want the volunteer to do. Matching volunteers with your tasks will go a long way to ensuring your important work is done well. But before any volunteers are actually signed up, your organisation needs to check that it is ready.

Support and commitment from the Committee of Management and staff

Begin by holding discussions with staff and the Committee of Management (COM) to clarify if there is a genuine reason to use volunteers.

Are you looking for volunteers to enhance the services that you provide? To strengthen your community involvement? To enrich your exposure to certain communities?

Develop a volunteer handbook, approved by the COM and senior management, that begins with what your group hopes to achieve for volunteer involvement. The handbook should include policies and guidelines to assist and support the volunteers once they have come on board.

Head off any potential future misunderstandings between staff and volunteers by developing a set of volunteer recruitment guidelines to clarify roles and responsibilities.

Policies need to include those that acknowledge the role of the volunteer is to enhance and not replace paid staff work. It should also be stated that volunteers will be expected to work co-operatively with staff and comply with organisation guidelines.

Ensure that your COM and those responsible for finance understand that although volunteers do not get paid they still incur costs.

Your organisation may need to provide some or all of the following:

The volunteer coordinator

The appointment of a volunteer coordinator is a cost effective way to match the organisation's evolving voluntary staffing needs with the recruitment, support and development of volunteers.

Working closely with senior management, the volunteer coordinator's work could include:

Volunteer job descriptions

Once agreement has been reached on the volunteer needs of the organisation, clear job descriptions need to be written for each position.

Senior management must approve all positions. Well-crafted position descriptions for each approved job will assist the organisation to:

To provide volunteers with challenges and motivation for continued success, each position description should include an explanation of the program's desired outcomes and the volunteer's role in helping you achieve them. You need to specify the sorts of skills and experience required. It is also important to specify the location, time commitment and expected duration of the project.

Information pack

The information pack should be sent out to all applicants for volunteer positions. It will assist them to make a decision about your organisation and its volunteer opportunities. It can also be used as part of your community education and donor development programs.

The pack could be available in print or electronic formats and include all or some of the following:

Volunteer application process

An efficient process needs to be developed to ensure that volunteers are dealt with respectfully, including any screening of potential recruits. This should include:

If a specific job requires extraordinary screening such as criminal background checks or certification, the volunteer should be informed up-front.

The procedure chosen and practiced should match the level of need for screening for a project. For example, a volunteer position with significant responsibility, such as a childcare position where security issues are of concern, requires the organisation to undertake every possible security check. On the other hand, an organisation providing support services for people who have experienced the criminal justice system may well want to encourage volunteers who share these experiences to apply.

See the Screening Volunteers help sheet for more on this topic.



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