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Volunteer Management Toolkit

Please find below various good practice articles on and tools for managing volunteers.

If you'd like further information on any of the articles or indeed issues raised - please contact us here in the volunteer centre at 041 980 9008 and we'd be more than happy to help you in any way that we can.


Designing Effective Volunteer Roles

Well-designed volunteer positions ensure that volunteer programs contribute to the achievement of their organization's goals. A plan for involving volunteers allows volunteer programs to recruit from the pool of volunteers available in the community and to engage them in ways that effectively utilise their skills.

Designing volunteer positions also plays a role in the strategic planning process of the volunteer program as well as the overall organization. Once designed, periodic reviews of volunteer positions and tasks help volunteer program planners make volunteer roles more effective and mission-oriented.

Turning the knowledge gained from developing volunteer positions into written volunteer position descriptions can also simplify some of the most challenging aspects of a volunteer coordinator's job- marketing, recruiting, screening, and training volunteers.

Position descriptions can serve as a tool for recruiting people with the right interests, skills, and availability, and matching those individuals successfully with volunteer positions. Position descriptions make clear the volunteer's responsibilities to everyone - staff, volunteers, and volunteer coordinators- which simplifies supervision and clears away many areas of potential conflict. 

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How to Fire a Volunteer and Live to Tell About it

One of the recurrent nightmares of any volunteer manager is encountering a situation in which they may have to consider 'firing' a volunteer. For many this prospect creates severe stress, both over the appropriateness of the action and over fear of possible legal and political consequences. Ann Cook, in a survey of Foster Grandparents Programs in 23 communities discovered that 82% of responding volunteer managers rated the decision to terminate a volunteer as being a 'difficult or very difficult issue' for them. Over 60% of the volunteer directors reported delaying dealing with the issue when they encountered it.

This article is intended to provide some guidelines on developing a system that will assist both in confronting and managing decisions to terminate a volunteer's relationship with an agency.

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Top 10 Reasons why Volunteers Leave Unexpectedly

Reason no. 10

The reality of their experience was not what they expected when they signed on
Reason no. 9
Employees treated them as an interruption, not as welcome (and anticipated) help.
Reason no. 8 

Veteran long term volunteers wouldn't let them into their "insider" group.

Reason no. 7

They did not see the connection between one day's work and another. 

Reason no. 6 

They did not know how to tell you they wanted to leave.

Reason no. 5 
They made a suggestion that was not acted on, or responded to.
Reason no. 4 
The atmosphere was impersonal, tense or cold.
Reason no. 3 
The physical environment did not support their efforts.
Reason no. 2
No one smiled at them.
Reason no. 1 
They were underutilised.

Ever thought about Disability and Volunteering

A Practical Checklist for organisations involving people with disabilities as volunteers.

  • Actively encourage people with disabilities to volunteer through targeted promotion, and the use of appealing recruitment campaigns.

  • Overcome physical barriers to involving volunteers, eg buildings, transport, information, equipment, to be more accessible to every form of disability.

  • Be creative, and develop volunteering opportunities which can be carried out by people with disabilities.

  • Allow for flexible volunteering opportunities.

  • Train staff and volunteers in equal opportunities and disability awareness, so that myths and stereotyping do not lead to negative attitudes, or assumptions about what people can and cannot do.

  • Meet volunteers\' needs and match them to tasks.

  • Make support available on an ongoing basis to the volunteers.

  • Pay out-of-pocket expenses, and give clear information around volunteering when on welfare benefits, so that fear of losing benefits does not become a barrier to volunteering.

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Ever Thought About Young People and Volunteering?

A practical checklist for organisations involving young people as volunteers
  • Target more information about volunteering opportunities at young people to help them make better choices. Youth Volunteering
  • Use positive images of volunteering (and less stereotyping) to attract younger people to your organisation. 
  • Make volunteer opportunities attractive and appealing to young people (Variety, Fun). 
  • Create clear, progressive and varying volunteer roles for young people.
  • Flexibility of volunteering (time and commitment) is important to reflect the diverse range of things which may be happening in a young person\'s life.
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Volunteer Expenses

When considering the issue of volunteer expenses and framing a policy in this regard, the three issues regarding volunteer expenses policy to be considered should probably be:

1. Where possible, make sure that volunteers are fully reimbursed for their costs and are not out-of-pocket after volunteering.
2. Don’t give more money than your volunteers have spent. This could be regarded as a ‘payment’ and affect tax, state benefits or even the legal status of a volunteer.
3. Create a simple and efficient system so that expenses are quickly reimbursed and volunteers are encouraged to claim.


It’s not unknown for managers of organisations to query why they should reimburse expenses. Some volunteers too might feel that they shouldn’t take money from a charity.

The reimbursement of volunteer expenses can help an organisation to meet its commitment to offering equal opportunities to all. The cost of travelling and a meal eaten out is significant to someone on a low income or who receives state benefits. Volunteer expenses should be built into all funding applications or budgets as part of the regular costs of a volunteer programme.

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Volunteering and Unemployment

According to the Department of Social Protection you may volunteer if you are receiving the following payments. Please read this document carefully. Job-seekers allowance A person may engage in voluntary work and continue to be entitled to JA provided s/he continues to satisfy the conditions of being available for and genuinely seeking work.

A number of factors are taken into account by a Deciding Officer in determining whether the work involved is voluntary and whether a person would continue to satisfy the conditions for the receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, and these include:

  • the aims and standing of the voluntary organisation,
  • the nature of the work involved, the weekly number of hours worked.
  • The employment must be truly voluntary and the Deciding Officer must be satisfied that the unemployed person is not engaging in work that would normally warrant liability for the payment of PRSI
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