Developing policies and procedures

There is no rule for the type or number of volunteer policies and procedures you need in your organisation. And you certainly don't want to generate paperwork or processes just for the sake of it.

Your organisation might have one overarching general volunteer policy, or a number of separate policies for different aspects of your volunteering program. Either way, they need to reflect the particular values of your organisation and outline how you involve and support your volunteers. You may also have specific aspects of your own volunteering program that you want to cover in a policy.

You should start by making sure you have established Volunteering principles and a Code of practice.

What's the process?

It’s important to include other people in the process of developing and implementing polices and procedures, to make sure the documents are useful – and used!

The key is to involve people affected by the policy – volunteers, stakeholders, management – in the process and to consider their viewpoints as you develop, implement and review your policies and supporting procedures.

Organise some brainstorming sessions or form a small working group of people from across your organisation.

It’s a good idea to include at least one volunteer and one volunteer manager or supervisor in this group.

In general, most organisations follow this process:

  • Work out what policies you need – What do similar organisations have? What's unique to your organisation? What are the priorities? Consult with people from across your organisation to get their ideas and comments
  • Draft, refine and write your policies
  • Have your policies approved and endorsed (by the Board, Committee of Management, CEO – depending on what is appropriate)
  • Promote your policies in the workplace, get people using the procedures and encourage feedback or improvements
  • Review and refine your policies regularly.

Writing your policies

It's up to you as to how formal or informal your policies are. Larger organisations often have human resources staff who manage policy development, but smaller organisations may not want (or need) policies and documentation to mirror the business world. Just make sure your policies suit your organisation’s values and volunteering principles.

Most policies will typically contain:

  • Administrative information – policy name, version, creation and review dates, who authorised it
  • An introductory statement about why the policy exists
  • A purpose statement about what the policy wants to achieve within the organisation
  • A section that outlines the details of the policy – who is responsible for actioning or implementing the policy, when it needs to be done by and which documents or forms are needed
  • The procedure – which explains how people go about actioning the policy.

It's good to have a standard template so that all your policies look the same and are easily identified. As a general rule, policies should be no longer than one page.

Once you've seen a few examples of policies you can decide how you'd like to structure your own.

Tools and resources