Planning and Maintaining a Volunteer Program

Modified on Mon, 07 Aug 2023 at 09:52 AM

Volunteer Programs encourage and demonstrate your organisation’s social responsibility principles and their integration and implementation within your organisation. Volunteers can be terrific champions for any organisation, including yours.

A Volunteer Program can contribute greatly to the various communities in which it exists. When considering the implementation of a volunteer program, an organisation needs to identify which parts of their service will be enhanced by volunteers and what these roles will entail. It is important to remember that aside from benefiting the organisation, you must ensure that you are able to provide fulfilling and rewarding roles for the volunteers, with adequate training and support. This is key to a successful and long-term program.

Taking the time to plan your program and having the right conversations with your board, management and staff and other volunteer programs, will help to identify potential concerns and enable proactive plans to be developed. 

To ensure your Volunteer Program is set up for success from the beginning, the following considerations and conversations should be addressed:

  • Program Objectives: Understanding what it is you want to gain from implementing a volunteering program, and how it will benefit your organisation

  • Resource Requirements: Knowing what resources you will require to establish and maintain your program, including staffing levels, technology, database etc

  • Volunteering Policies: Ensuring you have adequate guidelines set in place for your volunteers and supervising staff. This will vary depending on how reliant your organisation is on volunteers

  • Volunteer Roles: Having well set out Volunteer Role Descriptions will help your potential volunteers determine if it is right for them and help them settle into their role. It will also define the boundaries of volunteer roles

  • Training for Volunteers: Considering what induction and training your volunteers will need

  • Insurance Requirements: Ensuring you have adequate insurance to cover your Volunteer Program

  • Work Health and Safety: Ensuring you are able to provide a safe work environment for your volunteers

  • Adaptation: Being able to adapt for different situations and grow from any incidents is key to any long-term Volunteer Program

Maintaining your Volunteer Program

When establishing your Volunteer Program, you should factor in a process of Continuous Improvement.

Continuous improvement is an ongoing process of planning, review and evaluation, aligned with your organisation’s goals. This can occur as part of the broader organisational functions, Quality Assurance or Continuous Improvement plans (if already in place) or stand-alone if not.

Benefits to regularly reviewing your volunteering program include:

  • volunteers feel supported and satisfied in their role
  • support ongoing volunteer recruitment
  • increase volunteer retention rates 
  • aligning with organisation purpose (vision, mission and values)
  • delivers outcomes for the organisation and service users

A continuous improvement review highlights the strengths and weaknesses of your program.
It is important to consult a range of stakeholders to gain a full picture on your program. Reviews can be aimed at different parts of your program, or at the program overall. A review may consider how effectively a program is meeting its outcomes, the engagement of volunteers, or whether the program continues to align with your organisation’s priorities.

Reporting for Volunteer Programs

Reporting provides information on what is working and what could be improved, allowing you to re-design your volunteer program as necessary. It is an important part of a continuous improvement process and should link to the organisation’s overall strategy or reporting plans.
Clear reporting on the role volunteers play in your organisation is essential and enables your organisation and/or board or committee to invest in volunteering.

Volunteer Feedback

Asking for volunteer feedback is an important part of demonstrating your organisation’s commitment to volunteer involvement. It forms a key part of continuous improvement of your volunteer program. Volunteer feedback should be included in your organisation’s policies and procedures, especially in relation to formal processes such as performance reviews.

Understanding how each volunteer can contribute to and develop within your organisation is important for their satisfaction and retention. Volunteer insights and ideas can help improve the way an organisation works.

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement

Standard 2: Commitment to Volunteer Involvement 

Volunteer Management Handbook

Quick Guides

These downloadable resources have been developed under the National Volunteer Management Activity project.


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