Monday, June 30, 2008

Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities

The question also came up at the conference about volunteer rights and responsibilities.

You may hear that "volunteering is a privilege, not a right".

While that is true, it is important to address the rights and responsibilities of volunteers.

For a smaller organization, something as simple as a "Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities" document may be sufficient.

Here is a sample document:

Some jurisdictions incorporate volunteers directly into the regulations and procedures that govern the organization's employees.

The following website out of the Directgov in the United Kingdom, provides some good information, including a sample volunteer agreement.

It is important for the volunteers to:

- understand which policies they are required to follow,
- understand the limitations of their assignment,
- be provided with those policies,
- have access to those policies,
- sign off on those regulations, as being read and understood, and
- have a mechanism to be able to provide feedback and address concerns.

Recently, when working with a university, there was discussion on incorporating the university's ethics policy into the bylaws of the volunteer organization. There was a recommendation that a link to that policy be included in the revision. A staff member mentioned they had difficulty getting the document themselves.

If a volunteer (or employee) cannot easily access the policy, how can a volunteer be required to follow it???

It is important for the person coordinating the volunteers to:

- understand which policies apply to the volunteers,
- remember the people are volunteers and not employees,
- treat volunteers with respect, and
- take some time to listen to the volunteers.

And one thing to also keep in mind is that volunteers should not be treated as "free" employees/"free" labor.

1 comment:

Terry said...

Now this info is what I like to see! For all of us who volunteer, this information is worthy of a good close read..........
I really like the new, expanded direction your blog is taking. Most blogs are essentially dry, vapid mouthpieces of the organizations they represent. Positive positive positive is all you hear; while the REAL and somewhat sticky questions get pushed aside.....This one is new;you're not afraid to ask (and answer) the questions most volunteers have on their minds...Gutsy! not afraid to step on toes!I'm a big fan of the "journalistic bull in a china shop" style. You're bringing REAL issues forth that most volunteer orgs just sweep under the rug and hope nobody asks........This is good journalism And I like it!