Human Resources

Volunteer Program Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures for developing a volunteer program cover steps and procedures to be accomplished before a volunteer starts in an organization. Grantees will find this information useful when developing policies and procedures that govern the management of volunteers. Clarifying the need for volunteers, developing goals and objectives, and writing position/task descriptions are some of the preliminary tasks.

Policies and procedures are the nuts and bolts of the volunteer program. A policy is a principle, plan, or course of action. Policies tell people what to do. A procedure is a series of steps that direct people how to do what they must do.

Reasons to define policies

  • Connects the volunteer program to the larger organization and its mission.
  • Provides structure for sound management.
  • Formalizes decisions that have already been made.
  • Ensures continuity over time and promotes equity and standardization.
  • Articulates the importance of volunteers and provides an ongoing element of volunteer recognition.
  • Contributes to increased volunteer satisfaction, productiveness, and retention.

Types of written policies that should be developed

  • Statements of belief/position/value of organization.
  • Mechanisms for managing risk (e.g., insurance coverage, background checks).
  • Rules to specify expectations, regulations, and guides to action (e.g., confidentiality, time and training commitments, customer service).
  • Aids to program effectiveness (e.g., personnel policies) modified for the volunteer program.

Specific levels of policies

  • Organizational – broad, general statements (e.g., beliefs, values, mission of organization as a whole).
  • General – policies about the volunteer program (e.g., why it exists, what constitutes a volunteer, etc.).
  • Specific – policies within the volunteer program (e.g., specify what to do).

Seven steps in policy development for volunteer programs

  1. Recognize that volunteer involvement already exists within the organization.
  2. Acknowledge that volunteers are important within the organization.
  3. Acknowledge that volunteer involvement warrants the attention of senior management.
  4. Begin to give consideration to the volunteer program—develop a philosophy of why volunteers should be involved in programs and services the agency provides.
  5. Develop policies about volunteer involvement.
  6. Develop operational guidelines, standards, and procedures for volunteer involvement.
  7. Ensure volunteer program evaluation, compliance with established policies and standards, and regular policy review.