What's the difference between policies and procedures?

Policies and procedures go hand-in-hand to clarify what your organisation wants to do and how to do it.


Policies are clear, simple statements of how your organisation intends to conduct its services, actions or business. They provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.

Policies don't need to be long or complicated – a couple of sentences may be all you need for each policy area.


Procedures describe how each policy will be put into action in your organisation. Each procedure should outline:

  • Who will do what
  • What steps they need to take
  • Which forms or documents to use.

Procedures might just be a few bullet points or instructions. Sometimes they work well as forms, checklists, instructions or flowcharts.

Policies and their accompanying procedures will vary between workplaces because they reflect the values, approaches and commitments of a specific organisation and its culture. But they share the same role in guiding your organisation.

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Tools and resources

Volunteering Queensland - Policy and procedure development (PDF 156KB)
An information sheet describing the steps to follow to develop policies or procedures for your organisation, and how to ensure policies enable effective volunteering.

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