Features of hosting volunteers

Once an organisation has decided to create a volunteer programme, there are some steps to consider when designing a strategy and volunteer management model:


  • It is worth registering in the scope of Act LXXXVIII of 2005 on Volunteering in the Public Interest as an organisation hosting volunteers if the institution wishes to host volunteers within its scope. In connection with the application of the law, the Volunteering Hungary – Centre of Social Innovation has produced guidance material [1] that may need to be studied before starting a volunteer programme.
  • decision on the coordinator’s person, position, working time, considering volunteering.

Register as a volunteer host and sign a contract

The most accurate information on registering as a volunteer hosting organisation is on the website of the Volunteering Hungary – Centre of Social Innovation. Of these information, the following are highlighted here. [2]

… the statutory benefits can be provided by the host organisation free of charge – and for the volunteer is exempt from tax – only if the organisation is registered in the scope of the law, that is, in the register of volunteer organisations of public interest.

In order to qualify for the benefits of volunteering in the public interest, the host organisation must be registered with the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) ‘s Department for Creating Opportunities. The first step is to fill in the application form, which can be downloaded from the following website: http://www.civil.info.hu/bejelenteshez-szukseges-urlap (The host organisation must also indicate in the future if the information on the application form has changed.)

The list of mandatory  annexes to be attached to the application form is contained in Section 11 of the Act on Volunteering in the Public Interest

These are the following:


  1. In the case of an association of local governments, a copy of the association agreement,
  2. In the case of a non-governmental organisation, a copy of the valid deed of incorporation, dated not earlier than 30 days ago, issued by the competent court,
  3. In the case of an ecclesiastical legal entity, a certificate of registration of the ecclesiastical legal entity, as provided by the competent court. If the host organisation is a unit of an ecclesiastical legal entity, the related statement of the ecclesiastical legal entity must be attached,
  4. In the case of an institution or its maintainer, the notification shall be accompanied by a statement that the institution is operating lawfully. If the institution is maintained by a non-governmental organisation, foundation, public foundation, ecclesiastical legal entity, public benefit or business association, a court certificate issued not earlier than 30 days ago must be attached. If the institution is managed by an individual entrepreneur, a copy of the entrepreneurial licence is required

The application form and attachments must be submitted to the following address (as of 2017):
Ministry of Human Capacities Department for Creating Opportunities
1055 Budapest, Szalay u. 10-14.

The host organisations are not  required to report on individual volunteers  or  volunteer  contracts    to the Ministry of Human Capacities. Individual identification documents related to a volunteer in the public interest are kept by the host organisation, and the Ministry’s records contain only the host organisation details.

The Csabagyöngye Cultural Centre in Békéscsaba, among others holds the ‘Qualified Public Education Institution Title” and the ‘Public Education Quality Award’, and pays special attention to its lawful operation, which includes registration as a volunteer host organisation as well as a detailed methodology of the coordination of volunteers. As an example, the organisation registered as a hosting organisation in 2011, although volunteers have only been involved since 2013. This also shows that registering broadens the scope but does not oblige receiving volunteers.

As a registered volunteer hosting organisation, the next step is to prepare a volunteer contract .

Is a volunteer coordinator required?

It is imperative that you employ a volunteer coordinator in your institution, even if it is not possible or necessary to work full-time. The main task of the coordinator is to support the integration of the volunteer (orientation, training, motivation, monitoring, evaluation) and to inform the staff about the volunteer’s activities. They introduce the volunteers to the conditions, rules, working conditions, communication possibilities among the staff and provides information on the use of materials and equipment. They guide as to from whom the volunteer can ask for help. They assess the competences of volunteers and provide for potential training. They give an insight into the basic norms of the organisation, and are also aware of the expectations of volunteers, and try to reconcile the two. They monitor the work of volunteers and intervene in work processes where necessary.

The volunteer coordinator is a bridge between volunteer and institution staff, volunteer and institutional leadership. They inform the senior management about volunteering, are responsible for reporting, are the supervisor of administration, and prepare daily and periodic statistics. The financier of the institution is informed of the volunteer work of that institution in the annual reports drawn up by the director at the end of the year and the annual work plans drawn up at the beginning of the year.

It is important to note that the volunteer coordinator maintains an active relationship with a number of areas within the organisation, representing the volunteers. Depending on volunteering, they maintain contact with the appropriate professional units and the front-line work units of the organisation, if necessary for the effective performance of the tasks. Regardless of volunteering, establishing and maintaining regular contact is required with the lawyer (or legal department), the HR colleague (ideally HR department), the economist (or business department), the director (or senior management) and the security department.

Here, too, we confirm that the volunteer coordinator should have a clear position in management meetings and staff meetings, as this will give them an insight into the organisation as a whole and thus be able to define and expand the scope of volunteering.

The following aspects may also help to decide the basic question ‘whether or not to have volunteers’. There are two ways to approach the time, energy, and salary resources needed to run the programme to coordinate volunteers, as described below.

  1. The organisation’s goal is to increase cost-effectiveness, that is, to operate more efficiently with less budget. There are natural limits to this and there are switching points for investing in different assets or well-trained workforce, where a one-off cost will result in cost reductions in the future (e.g. switching from a typewriter to a computer could free much of the working time due to faster work). Such is the case when an investment, albeit at a constant cost, involves the use of a volunteer coordinator with a constant wage obligation – they can coordinate so much extra work while performing their tasks which, expressed in working hours, may be equivalent to the working hours of several paid employees. The question here is whether the organisation is willing to spend (even by reallocating the available budget) on a volunteer coordinator position, which we strongly recommend.
  2. If the answer to the previous question is yes, it is necessary to decide in how many hours to use the volunteer coordinator. Based on the experience of organisations, depending on the type of activity volunteers perform, how regular they are, how workforce intensive and continuous their training is, and how up-to-date their information is, we recommend the following handrail as a fist figure to shade the picture:
  • Employing 0 to 10 volunteers usually does not mean more than 10 hours a week.
  • With employing 10 to 30 volunteers, it is easily happen that constant relationship with volunteers and the volunteer coordinator’s tasks make up a half-time job.
  • For 30-50 people, at least one half-time volunteer coordinator is definitely needed to run the programme properly.
  • Coordinating 50-80 people is already a very busy task, and it may easily happen that a staff member works full time on the related tasks.
  • Over 80 people a full-time volunteer coordinator is definitely required.
  • In a programme with 80-100 people, the full-time coordinator is likely to need additional help and assistance.
  • At least two knowledgeable coordinators are required for a volunteer programme involving more than 100 volunteers on a regular basis.

In the case of small institutions, the position is difficult to create and difficult to afford. When starting a new programme, we strongly recommend slow construction. That is, the first step in recruiting volunteers is not likely to be the creation of a volunteer coordinator position, but it is very important to take any signs of overload of the coordinator seriously. Think of it, you control an entire army (or a handful) at times.

Thinking analogically, how many hundred-strong companies expect a single executive to bring everything together?

The spread of employing a volunteer coordinator is hindered by the fact that it does not yet have a place in the register of professions. As a result, in many cases it is difficult to find a source of funding for the coordinator position, but there are many examples of institution managers and maintainers finding a solution to generate the necessary resources due to the size of the programme and the volume of work involved.

[1] Bullain, N. (szerk.): Útmutató az önkéntes törvényhez – amit a fogadó szervezeteknek tudniuk érdemes A közérdekű önkéntes tevékenységről szóló törvényről. 2011. Budapest, Önkéntes Központ Alapítvány. http://www.onkentes.hu/sites/default/files/attachment/3/torvkiadvany szervezeteknekjavitott1_0.pdf (utoljára megtekintve: 2017.04.21.)
[2] Információk a minisztériumi bejelentkezésről. 2013. Budapest, Önkéntes Központ alapítvány. http://www.onkentes.hu/cikkek/informaciok-miniszteriumi-bejelentkezesrol (utoljára megtekintve: 2017.04.14.)


This article based on the following document: This article based on the following document: Practical Guide for the Establishment and Operation of Volunteer Programmes at Institutions : abridged English version