Guide To Creating A Volunteer Handbook

In this section, you should outline the technology tools available to your volunteers and how they should use them. For more insights on how to design an effective volunteer training program, check out this article from VolunteerPro and this one from VolunteerHub. Training, on the other hand, is task-specific and should be tailored to the requirements of each position. Volunteers will require initial start-up training and ongoing, in-service training. Some volunteers may not read the handbook at the time they receive it, but they will refer to the handbook when they have a question or concern. An electronic version of the volunteer handbook on your website ensures volunteers can always access the information they need. Maybe your nonprofit already has a volunteer handbook, but it’s been a while since it’s been reviewed and newcomers are noticing things missing.

When was the last time you reviewed your Volunteer Handbook or Policies and Procedures Manual? Learn how to create a living document that can help both paid and volunteer staff be better informed and know what is expected of them. A good Volunteer Handbook can also help you better identify and deal with challenging volunteers.

This is where you will introduce all your volunteers to the leadership team they will be reporting too. We recommend using pictures in this section to make your leadership team more familiar. It is also helpful to state the roles of each leadership member to help volunteers identify who is best to contact when an issue arises. It’s important not to confuse volunteer orientation with volunteer training. Help all new volunteers develop a solid understanding of your organization – its mission, goals and culture. Simons Consulting Services and Susan Simons has been helping non-profit agencies for over 20 years. They work together to meet the challenges of fundraising, volunteer management, grant writing and events.

Policies And Procedures You Have In Place

List the training sessions they must attend and explain why you require the training. Give volunteers the likely schedule for these orientation and training sessions and let them know how they can sign up for specific times.

First, they force you to evaluate your entire volunteer-development program, identifying gaps in your recruitment, training, recognition and dismissal policies, and procedures. Secondly, they are great tools for keeping volunteers informed and engaged with your mission. A volunteer handbook is an essential piece of a successful volunteer program at a nonprofit. But, you need more than just a volunteer handbook to make sure your volunteers have a positive experience and want to continue serving. You also need a targeted recruiting process, an onboarding process, an orientation, volunteer management practices, and volunteer recognition.

volunteer handbook for nonprofit

A thriving Volunteer Program means your organization can do more and change more lives. But the reality is that many volunteers will read and refer to the handbook. When a person volunteers for an organization, their interest level is high, and they are putting their passion into action. You need a process for tracking volunteer hours, as this information is useful to funders, and you might want to build in incentives for volunteers who volunteer a certain number of hours. You also want to think about how your volunteer handbook is organized, so things are easy to find. This is another important component of the volunteer handbook, as it is what the volunteer will probably be most interested in! There are many different things to note in the act of volunteering.

She is the author of more than 60 books, guides and webinars on nonprofit management, which are in use in more than a dozen countries. She just recently published a series of 12 webinars for Nonprofit WebAdvisor’s Nonprofit Executive Director Certification program. You want to give volunteers the information they need to feel confident and informed, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much.

What Goes Into A Volunteer Handbook?

Or maybe you think you don’t have enough information for a volunteer handbook. You might think you don’t need a volunteer handbook because you only have a few regular volunteers. Without a handbook, volunteers may feel disconnected and unsure of their role and responsibilities because once training is over, there are no materials for them to reference later. Volunteer Handbooks are more of a training guide and an explanation of all things volunteering with that organization. Volunteer welcome packs are usually more fun and contain a multitude of gifts and other things like orientation schedules. Organizational Tactics to the Program – Writing out a volunteer handbook can help organize the program and the organization better, seeing it all together on paper. You can also use other nonprofits’ handbooks as an outline (but don’t copy!).

In your volunteer operations section, provide important details about reporting, processes, procedures, and scheduling. In this section, you can start getting more specific about the programs and initiatives your organization runs. You’ll want to describe how the programs work and the benefits they have for the community. You can also define the big picture in terms of how volunteers typically contribute and what rewards they see. At some point, policies are likely to change, or you may revise longstanding procedures. Designate one person to be responsible for updating the handbook accordingly — that way, you’ll know you have a resource that gives volunteers correct, up-to-date information.

  • The description should clearly outline the qualifications, duties to provide your volunteers with an idea of what they will be doing when they arrive.
  • It is also helpful to state the roles of each leadership member to help volunteers identify who is best to contact when an issue arises.
  • If things tend to change quickly in your offices, you might end up revising the handbook every couple of months.
  • If procedures tend to remain set for a while, a yearly update may be all you need.
  • Make sure to show your appreciation and explain the positive impact volunteers make for your program, event, or initiative.

Include information on pledge programs, monthly giving, and other opportunities to financially support the work they care deeply about. A volunteer handbook gives volunteers the information they need about the organization and its mission, and answers any common questions they may have. Volunteer handbooks have both direct and indirect involvement in the success of a Volunteer Program. The process of creating and enforcing the volunteer handbook allows for volunteers to be more attentive and the program to be more evolved with upkeep. Try to place yourself as a volunteer to figure out what you wish you knew or had access to.

Because it can not only be a valuable tool for recruitment and training of volunteers, but an invaluable reference tool for supervisors and volunteers. I recommend using a computerized format and posting it online for easy access by all volunteers. Sections of the board handbook can be password protected, accessible only by board members. This is because sometimes volunteers are interested in moving from one position to another. If they can see job descriptions from a variety of opportunities (board, committee, virtual, events, etc.) posted online, the chance of them expanding their volunteering increases.

Guide To Creating A Volunteer Handbook

The reviewer can also check to see that the handbook is user-friendly and its tone represents the organization well. Sandy shows Founders and leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their big vision so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to mastering donor-based fundraising, inspiring their donors to give often and give big. Learn how to raise the money you need to fund your new nonprofit without begging, doing without, or paying out of your own pocket.Click here to download our free ebook Fund Your Dream. So, here are some topics you might cover in your volunteer handbook and in an order that makes sense. When writing a handbook, it will be essential to consider your audience.

Why are volunteers important for nonprofits?

Volunteers help with fundraising, administrative tasks and operations, and they help spread the word about the mission of the organization.

Or maybe your organization is starting to really grow and along with that come growing pains that were not addressed in the volunteer handbook. Safety measures should always be a part of volunteer handbooks. They help make volunteers feel safe and know what to do in case of an emergency. Best of all, a volunteer handbook provides a consistent resource that staff, volunteers, and even donors can reference. Doing so gives everyone a clear picture of what your organization does and how volunteers help. Rather than worrying about inconsistent training experiences or “word of mouth” directions, volunteers and staff have a handbook that helps them succeed. This is a particularly important section of your volunteer handbook.


Introducing volunteers to the team members they’ll be working with or supporting. For examples of well done volunteer trainings, peruse the Corporation for National and Community Service’s extensive repository. Determine how often your organization will set aside time for handbook updates. If things tend to change quickly in your offices, you might end up revising the handbook every couple of months.

What is a volunteer management strategy?

Volunteer management encompasses all of the steps a nonprofit takes to recruit, track, engage, and retain volunteers. Through effective volunteer management, your organization can build a more strategic, positive volunteer experience and cultivate long-term, mutually beneficial supporter relationships.

Now it’s your turn to start creating a fantastic volunteer handbook! We have created a free volunteer handbook template to get you started.

Role Of Your Volunteers

However, many nonprofits tend to neglect writing an effective handbook for their volunteers. Volunteers are a vital aspect of most Nonprofit organizations and there is an increase liability risk when there are no proper procedures or policies in place. Many administrators mistakenly believe that since they are not technically employees, they do not need a handbook or that it is not as important as an employee handbook. A well -crafted Volunteer handbook or guidebook will go a long way toward preventing potential lawsuits and will help volunteers understand what is expected of them. Often volunteer handbooks include many more items than listed here. When you’re creating your volunteer handbook, remember to address volunteer conduct and your organization’s code of ethics. In this section, specify what principles you expect volunteers to uphold as they work.

volunteer handbook for nonprofit

The first step is to write a position description, similar to one for a paid position. Have the applicants submit a resume and any pertinent work samples. How to create a living document that can help both paid and volunteer staff be better informed and know what is expected of them.

A Quick Guide For Creating A Volunteer Handbook

This is where you can clearly state necessary logistical information like where to park, where to meet and what you are providing for your volunteers . Try and provide volunteers with all the information they need to thrive when they show up to work. Getting to know your volunteers can help you customize each new volunteer’s orientation or onboarding experience. Depending on the needs and resources available to your organization and your volunteers, you may decide to offer orientation sessions on a one-on-one basis or in group sessions. Ensuring volunteers have access to a point person who can answer their questions and guide them as needed.

Varying Handbooks By Nonprofit Type

The volunteer should meet with his or her supervisor on a regular basis to go over the workplan. You’ll have better luck finding good volunteers if you come up with a process similar to that of finding paid staff.

Here are some options of what you can layout for your volunteers in their handbook. Here are some sections you can add to the handbook to emphasize safety.

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