Volunteer Handbooks (Part 1): Why Have One?

7 June 2021 | News

Volunteer Handbooks (Part 1): Why Have One?

A volunteer handbook can be an essential organisational resource. High-performing organisations often require that all staff, paid or volunteer, work directly to advance the strategic priorities that have been set by the board and so people need to have resources to make sure they're all working in the same direction.


This is so much more than just orientation. Orientation is an event, the first step in the process of onboarding. You can use a volunteer handbook throughout the onboarding process, to communicate a number of things, including:

The vision, mission, and values of your organisation
Policies and procedures
Your organisational culture
Specific role expectations

Establishing the importance of volunteers within your organisation:

Volunteers contribute far more than just their time, and in way that can't simply be reduced to an equivalent hourly wage. Volunteerism turns community concern and contribution into the norm...contributing to a collective purpose instead of focusing on individualism. Volunteers contribute several benefits to an organisation, benefits which should be spelled out in your handbook, including:

  • Credibility - because volunteers have less of a vested interest in the organisation than paid staff, they can be a very valuable public relations tool
  • Energy
  • New ideas
  • Constructive criticism and feedback
  • Immediate access to the community

Talent management:

Less than half of community organisations properly match volunteers' skills with appropriate roles and assignments. This often happens because a volunteer may sign up for a particular role out of a desire to help your organisation in a general way, but you're too busy to find out everything that that voluntere is capable of doing. A volunteer handbook can outline all the ways volunteers can contribute to your organisation. This way, once the initial placement is completed, or if the volunteer wants (or needs) a different challenge, they know they can ask you about specific other needs within your organisation.