Launching a New Volunteer Programme

The introduction of a new volunteer program involves several steps. In this case, two basic cases can be distinguished. First, when the organisation has not worked with volunteers in an organised manner before, and the volunteer programme itself and the appearance of volunteers is also new to the life of the organisation. In this case, preparation and the preparation of the organisation for the reception of the volunteers plays an important role. On the other hand, it may be that the organisation is already working with volunteers, but would like to introduce their presence and activities in a new area.

The following table summarises the necessary and safe steps that should be considered before and during the implementation of a volunteer programme in terms of later operation. You can also keep track of which documents are created during each step in the table. We emphasise that the sequence of the steps below may vary depending on the nature of the activity, so we strongly recommend that you get an overview of the entire process and review the following line guide before planning.

The time requirements for each step are not shown as there may be significant differences in the life of an organisation with a few staff members and an organisation with hundreds of employees, or even depending on the degree of responsibility given to the volunteers. However, we leave the question of scheduling open and invite those who read the Manual with the intention of creating a programme to participate in joint planning. We provided an opportunity for them to schedule the time for each step in the last column of the table below. We recommend that they start with the final step of planning, which determines when the new volunteering will operate, after which it is worthwhile planning the next steps backwards. We, too, will be amazed at how much time and energy this planning process requires. One thing is certain: the energy invested in the preparation will pay off.


Sequence of steps Resulting documents Schedule
1.       The idea

·         The justification for volunteering.

·         List of pro/counter arguments (organisational benefits and counter-arguments).

·         Gather relevant experience from other organisations.

Idea / project description, collection of arguments.
2.      The need

·         Collecting allies, informal meetings, discussion(s): organisational demand for volunteers is strengthened, formal meetings.

·         Convincing senior management, obtaining the necessary permits.

·         Clarification of conditions and the start of activities.

Meeting minutes, permits.
3.      Task description

·         Job descriptions: what task do volunteers perform exactly and within what framework?

·         How does this contribute to the achievement of organizational goals?

job description
4.      Organisational fit

·         Which organisational unit or entity will coordinate the volunteers?

·         Informing and training of colleagues in contact with volunteers (workshop).

modified organisation chart
5.      Budget

·         What is the added value of the activity to the ‘clients’ of the organisation and thus to the organisation? What is the added value of volunteers in terms of quality difference, new service, increase in staff availability time, increase in income? Whether in money or in terms of value.

·         What does the recruitment of volunteers involve? What kind of rewards will be given to them, and what are the costs (may even be expressed in terms of staff time) of selecting, preparing, mentoring and coordinating volunteers?

budget of the volunteer programme
6.      Administrative duties

·         What administrative obligations and burdens does the recruitment of volunteers entail?

·         What are the rules and frameworks for recruiting volunteers?

application form, contract template, volunteer database, volunteer manual
7.      Recruitment and selection

·         Documents for announcing the volunteer opportunity, setting the minimum recruitment time (we recommend leaving at least 2-3 weeks).

·         Recruitment plan. Do we know the channels through which we advertise the opportunity, the timeframe for responses, and when we will interview? How many volunteers do we need to complete the task? What filters do we apply when selecting from the candidates? Who will be responsible for recruitment and selection? When will there be capacity to perform the tasks? Is recruitment and selection performed by a person or a committee?

volunteer recruitment call, application form, interview line, response letter template, recruitment plan – in written form
8.      Security aspects

·         Have we considered the security implications of recruiting volunteers? How do they get into the building and the office? Do they get an access card or key?

·         What liability insurance rules apply to volunteers?

security plan, permit record
9.      Training

·         Preparing selected volunteers for the task.

·         Setting of examination, knowledge and competence assessment filters if necessary – what if someone is not fit for the assigned task? what if someone passes the exam?

·         Concluding contracts with volunteers

training plan
10.  Start of volunteering activity

·         During what period, where and who will perform volunteer tasks?

·         Are there all the tools, tables, chairs, etc. available for the performance of the activity?

·         Will the new activity be available to the clients of the institution, and if so, how will they know about the new activity?

volunteer roster, if relevant: promoting the new service When do you plan to start your new programme, the first volunteer day?


To sum up, we propose to address four issues:


  • Processes – Are all processes clear to the coordinator and all the staff? Are they also aware of their role in the processes? Is everyone aware of the project and its intended operation and purpose? Are the responsibilities of volunteers clear and unambiguous?
  • People – Have all staff, at every level of the organisation, been informed that new volunteers are expected? Has the relationship (subordination) of the staff to prospective volunteers been clarified? Are the feedback options clear?
  • Documents – Has everyone received the document they require? Have the volunteer badges, rosters, records, volunteer contracts, the manual, etc. been prepared? Have internal information materials been prepared?
  • Tools – Are all tools available for volunteering? Is there an office, rest room, workstation, computer, printer, paper, pen, etc. available?

As preparation requires a diverse, precise, and careful procedure to avoid having any area of weakness in relation to volunteering in the future, in the case of a new programme it is worthwhile to allow sufficient time to consider the introduction of a programme.


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