Writing Great Role Descriptions (Part 2)

30 June 2021 | News

Writing Great Role Descriptions (Part 2)

One of the key steps in volunteer recruitment is having a good role description. They're the foundation of a number of important processes like recruitment, selection, setting expectations, training, performance assessment, and risk management.

Start by putting together a list of tasks and identifying necessary qualifications for the role, which are directly linked to the mandate for your organisation. Read here for a post on how you can do this. Then, once you know what you need, use this template to write consistent role descriptions which clearly explain the expectations for the role.

Role Title

Be specific and clearly indicate the degree of responsibility. Examples may include: Tutor, Firefighter, Assistant Customer Services Manager, Friendly Visitor.

Try to avoid using 'volunteer' in the role title...they already know they're volunteering.

Organisation Mission

State your organisation's mission and how this role will help to further that mission.

Supervision & Support Plan

Give some indication as to whom the volunteer will report, requirements for reporting and supervisory meetings, and any support the volunteer will receive including training, mentoring, and other guidance.

Outcomes / Goals

What are the measurable tasks of this position? Measureable outcomes can then be used as indicators for performance appraisals, recognition, and completiong of the role.


What specifically is the volunteer going to do? Clearly outlining the responsibilities will help minimise misunderstandings about the expectations of the volunteer.

Expected Time Commitment

What kind of schedule is in place? Will the volunteer be required to come to the office for 2 hours on the same day each week, or will they be able to work from home on a flexible schedule as long as they still do 2 hours per week?

Start and End Date

Even if it is an ongoing role, it can be helpful to put an end date so that the role description can be revisited and all parties are given an opportunity to evaluate the success of the arrangement in place.

Desired Skills, Abilities, and/or Experience

This is where you should included any minimum qualifications needed. This can include any formal qualifications such as university degrees, polytech diplomas, trades qualifications, and certifications like First Aid, Food Safe, etc. It's also the place to include skills which can be acquired through education, work experience, or life experience. Don't forget to include any specific personal attributes that would be useful in this role, e.g. patient, empathetic, outoing, ability to work independently.

Benefits to the Volunteer

Include here any items which might tap into a volunteer's motivations for taking on the role. For example, reimbursement of expenses, training in a specific skill, or even the less tangible things like bringing a smile to the face of a lonely senior in a rest home.