The very mention of policies and procedures can give some managers a headache so let's start by dispelling two myths: policies and procedures don't have to be complex and wordy and they don't take forever to write.
Policies and procedures are often about writing down what you are already doing Make it a manageable task by keeping it simple and doing it over a period of time. Remember to go back to it regularly and update it if necessary.
Having a volunteer policy is essential for organisations intending to involve volunteers; it underpins effective volunteer management. A volunteer policy will help to:
A volunteer policy states your position and/or your belief about something. It gives direction and guidelines for making decisions. Policies tell people what to do. For example, you should have a policy on volunteer expenses which clearly states under what circumstances volunteers will be eligible to make a claim.
A volunteer procedure describes the steps and sequence of activities that support a policy. Procedures tell people how to do it. For example, your expenses procedure will tell your volunteers how they apply for expenses and how much they can claim.
It's common to feel a bit overwhelmed by policy-making so here are some tips to keep the task manageable:
Think creatively about how the task can be achieved. One possible option would be to delegate the task, or parts of it, to a small group. If your organisation already has volunteers, involve them in the process too.
Ask existing volunteers would any of them like to be involved in a new challenge or Recruit a volunteer with knowledge and expertise to help draft the document.
The volunteer policy should reflect what your volunteers and organisation need. When making a list of what to include, think about the order in which the policies should be written. Start with the policies which you need most and don't avoid the more contentious ones.
|Have you a policy on||Yes/No||Next steps (write/review)|
|Why you involve volunteers|
|Recruitment and selection|
|Relationships between volunteers and the team/management|
|Relationships between volunteers and the client group|
|Training and development|
|Support and supervision|
|Involvement in organisational structures|
|Dealing with problems|
Policies should be written in the present tense, using clear and concise language.
Below is an example of what an expenses policy might include.
The cost of volunteering should never be allowed to discourage volunteering. Volunteers will be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses incurred directly as a result of their volunteering activity.
The procedure follows the policy:
Procedures for claiming expenses
While most volunteers will welcome having policies and procedures in place, you may find resistance from some volunteers. They may see their introduction as threatening or unnecessary, too formal, contrary to the spirit of volunteering or too closely resembling a paid work situation. If volunteers have concerns you need to acknowledge them and look at how you can promote the positive aspects of having a volunteer policy and minimise the concerns of volunteers.
Keep in Mind
Further information sources
Ask other volunteer involving organisations for a copy of their Volunteer Policies & Procedures
Volunteer Development Agency (2001) As good as they give: planning volunteer involvement, Volunteer Development Agency: Belfast, Northern Ireland