Volunteering principles

Volunteering means different things to different organisations. It's important to begin by considering how volunteer involvement fits with the mission and goals of your organisation. Your volunteer principles are basically a rationale or philosophy for involving volunteers in your programs and activities.

Documenting this helps to:

  • Clarify why you have volunteers in your organisation
  • Differentiate between the work of paid staff and volunteers
  • Ensure that your organisation does not inadvertently exploit the effort and good will of volunteers.

Having a set of volunteering principles helps to direct your organisation's goals, policies and programs and also shows new and prospective volunteers that you are serious about their role and how they contribute to your organisation.

Make sure that everyone in your organisation is familiar with your statement of rights and responsibilities for volunteers. You should also give a copy to new or prospective volunteers as part of your recruitment and induction processes.

Why have volunteers?

The main reasons for involving volunteers include:

  • To enhance and extend the work of paid staff within the organisation
  • To improve the quality of service delivery or relationships with clients
  • To develop and work in new areas of operation for the organisation
  • To involve a diverse range of volunteers for different perspectives and experiences
  • For specialised skills or knowledge
  • To assist in the major fundraising, promotional or outreach events run by the organisation
  • Because volunteers make the organisation.

Encouraging diversity

If you are trying to develop diversity in your organisation and attract different kinds of volunteers – such as young people, people from different cultural backgrounds or people with a disability – it is useful to incorporate this into your broad principles. This ensures that your organisation's commitment to diversity is instilled right from the highest level of your volunteering programs and services.

Tools and resources