Developing Policies and Procedures

Modified on Mon, 15 Jan 2024 at 02:40 PM

Organisations can, and should, have policies on any number of subjects, including staff, health and safety, equal opportunities, finance, etc. Policies are a statement of the ethos and values of an organisation. They define a boundary within which things are acceptable. They also clarify roles, relationships and responsibilities and they can serve as a basis for decision-making. Policies tell people what to do in any given situation; procedures tell them how to do it. Policies are frequently unwritten, but written policies are preferable, for many reasons, including:

  • they force the organisation to think strategically and act professionally
  • they ensure continuity over time
  • they are lent greater importance and therefore assure more compliance
  • they make sure there is less chance of misinterpretation.

Consider different abilities when it comes to reading and understanding of policies and procedures. Where possible use clear and plain language and explain abbreviations or other terms that people may not be familiar with. 

Why might an organisation need a written volunteer policy? 

  • To make a clear position statement about why and how it involves volunteers
  • To manage any potential risks 
  • To ensure proper volunteer recruitment and management
  • To serve as an aid to effectiveness which allows the organisation to get the most out of its volunteers

The process of volunteer policy development


Policy development can seem overwhelming; the process must therefore be planned and managed. Before developing policies, the organisation should ensure that they are satisfied with their Constitution (if unincorporated) or Memorandum and Articles of Association (if incorporated), and their Vision and / or Mission Statements.


Policies should not be developed by one individual, though one person should take overall responsibility for coordination. Consider setting up a policy subcommittee.


Hastily writing policies during or after a crisis should be avoided. Good policy development takes time and a realistic timetable should therefore be set. Prioritise; do not try to do it all at once.

What are the steps? 

  • Research - Find out what written and unwritten policies the organisation already has; contact your regions Volunteering Peak Bodies; talk with other volunteer involving organisations; look at sample policies.
  • Consultation, brainstorms, questionnaires, meetings, etc, with everyone who has an interest, including current volunteers, staff, management committee, clients, sponsors etc; this will ensure ownership of a comprehensive policy.
  • When writing use clear, simple, direct and sensitive language. Be concise, but explain why the policy exists. Draft and redraft. There is no correct format; the volunteer policy can range from one side of A4 to a thick manual.
  • It is essential that the policy is approved by the management committee / board of the organisation.
  • During distribution & implementation, distribute the policy as widely as possible (notice boards, newsletters, current and new volunteers and paid staff etc). Policy is not an end itself; it needs to be put into practice. Consider asking staff and volunteers to sign something saying they have understood the policy. Take appropriate action if policy is breached.
  • Evaluate regularly, review is essential; policies must never be considered as cast in stone.

Template Library

To assist you in developing your Policies and Procedures, CLICK HERE to be taken to our library of customisable templates.

Quick Guide

This downloadable resource has been developed under the National Volunteer Management Activity project. 

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