Volunteer Management Do’s and Don’ts
This is not an exhaustive list and it’s always a work in progress.
We have pulled together some of the elements we felt were worth discussing or stating. Please bear in mind when you read this that these have been categorised based on general good practice and for your group or type of work, some of this might be the opposite of where we have sorted it.
The points are also designed to inspire conversation and reflection on your part. If you want some support for your volunteering programme get in touch and the WVA team would be happy to help.
Be honest and always give positive feedback.
Always document any discussions and changes made to a volunteer’s role.
Always explain to new volunteers if you have a trial period
Have some sort of volunteer agreement that both sides sign which is the closest thing you can have to a contract
Be mindful of a volunteer’s triggers that might have a negative effect on their wellbeing and avoid putting the volunteer in those situations
Close recruitment if necessary until further notice, and ensure this is published wherever you put on your messages out too.
Speak to referral agencies about inappropriate referrals.
Know that it’s not always you, volunteers leave or cause challenges for all sorts of reasons, try not to take it personally
Try and make the role description flexible and allow people to choose which bits they can and want to do.
When you are recruiting for new volunteers tell each person you have a chat with that you only have XX places and that you have already interviewed XX people. Inform them that you will let them know as soon as a decision has been made.
Know what level of adaptations you can make to roles or what adjustments you can make to have someone volunteer, such as having a support worker with them
Accept a volunteer because they are simply keen, make sure they have a range of suitable traits or skills
Reject someone that you deem unsuitable without an honest explanation.
Ask the question on an application form ‘Do you have any health issues or special needs that we need to know about’? unless you have reason to do so and are going to do something with the answer
Put the organisation in a challenging position because you have favoured the volunteer. Volunteers are there to support your work, not be it.
Do this alone! Try and build an internal and external network of support to help you through challenging situations
Don’t make leaving difficult or make people feel bad for moving on
Have favourite volunteers (at least out loud or that you show in your behaviour)
Sound discriminatory when you specify abilities or traits, explain it through the clarity of tasks rather than saying ‘need to be a good physical health’ for example.
Just rely on your policies, they are there to support but not dictate. Make sure you use the evidence and your intuition to solve the challenge.
Make promises or claims you can’t keep