Volunteer Programme Strategy

If it has been decided that volunteers will be taken on, it is worthwhile to create a Volunteer Programme Strategy in the spirit of conscious preparation, whereby you can concentrate our energies on the right place and task in the midst of plenty of work.

When formulating a volunteer strategy on an institutional level, we define resources gained from volunteering and a financial framework for a long-term that are consistent with our mission and our plans for the future. Strategic planning, including volunteer strategy planning, has the following key steps. When any of them is completed, tick it in the sidebar also to follow your own progress. Keep in mind that the volunteering strategy will be an internal material, but some of its elements will be a guide to be given to volunteers. This fact should be taken into account at the beginning of the editing process, and the two documents should be edited in parallel.

A major strategic challenge of a newly launched volunteer programme for both the coordinator and the organisation is to coordinate the activities of paid and volunteer support staff and to create an inclusive environment. The elements of the volunteer model and their elaboration all contribute to this.

To reassure, emphasise that while strategy is a serious concept, it does not mean rigidity but planning. In fact, it is strongly recommended that the strategy be reconsidered at intervals, either annually or in every few years, so that experience can be integrated and the volunteer programme can develop organically with the organisation. As an example, we highlight again the example of Csabagyöngye Cultural Centre in Békéscsaba, where, based on the feedback of volunteers, the volunteer programme of the organisations is continuously being developed in order to be successful in volunteering and to meet the constantly arising challenges. Likewise, the Volunteer Programme of the Museum of Fine Arts is constantly changing and, since its inception in 2006, it has undergone many changes. Administration has become more sophisticated, the methods of evaluating and recognising volunteers have changed, as have interviewing methods or forms and regularity of training, but the scope of activities has also expanded.


Planning phase Finished
1.       Vision

·         determines the optimal desired future state you wish to achieve over time

·         provides guidance and inspiration on where the organisation wants to go in 5-10 years

·         it functions as a reference point: from which employees easily understands that their daily work contributes to achieve this

·         it is formulated in such a simple but enthusiastic way that any employee can easily tell

2.       Mission

·         defines the current status and purpose of the organisation

·         answers three questions about how the organisation works:

1.       what does it do?

2.       for whom does it do?

3.       how does it do it?

·         Summarise them in 1-2 sentences, thinking over a period of 3 years to make it something that any colleague can easily tell

3.       Main values

Determine what values ​​your organisation represents and conveys in your organisation’s operations (community, value creation, perseverance?)

4.       Strategic focus areas

Defining these helps to filter out of the many goals those that the organisation needs now. Defining them is a more time-consuming task, but is easy to do e.g. with a SWOT analysis

5.       Strategic goals

The targets open up the main directions of each focus area and shade the image. It is worth not only thinking at an organisational level, but also at a broader i.e., social level and at a narrower i.e., individual level.

6.       Action plans

It is worth creating an action plan on an individual level, with a deadline and a precise task assignment, so that everyone knows what they need to do today and tomorrow to achieve the chosen main goals.


SWOT analysis

As step 4 of strategic planning, it is worthwhile analysing the organisation (as volunteers will also do so) and have a fresh look at volunteering. A classic tool for this can be a SWOT analysis (acronym: Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threaths) as a strategy-building step. This will help you find out which areas you should focus on when implementing a volunteer programme.

The analysis can be applied on several levels: cultural sector, volunteering, an institution and volunteering for the particular institution. In our case, we recommend the latter focus reduction. Fill in the table. List at least 5 items in each category.



organisational strengths that can be used as features and resources, can be further developed to create a volunteer programme and are independent of external circumstances

• • •


organisational weaknesses that make it difficult to set up a volunteer programme, regardless of external circumstances, and conscious development in these areas can help

• • •


opportunities that may facilitate the introduction of a volunteer programme if the external circumstances are good

• • •


difficulties that may hinder or prevent the introduction of a volunteerr programme in the event of unfortunate external events

• • •

In order for applying a SWOT analysis effectively, it is not enough to complete the above table, but we need to go further. It is also necessary to reconsider the cross impacts of the individual areas and elements. To do this, it is advisable to select the three most significant of the areas from the above lists and enter them in the appropriate category in the table below. Then all you have to do is answer the questions.

Volunteer management model

As the strategy is being developed, it is important to become familiar with the key areas of volunteer management. There are several models available, two of which are highlighted.
First, let us look at a chronological step that guides us through the design and creation of a volunteer programme. The purpose is to see the whole process, which in fact never ends, but certain elements are repeated cyclically according to the needs of the volunteer programme and the organisation.
Checklist for implementing a successful volunteer programme[1]:


  1. Define the meaning of the term ‘volunteer’, which can be interpreted in the particular situation.
  2. Decide what the volunteer can do for the organisation.
  3. List the qualities and abilities of an ideal volunteer.
  4. Assess the needs of both volunteers and the organisation.
  5. Develop a good recruiting process.
  6. Organise the first briefing and interviews.
  7. Make a task description for the volunteer.
  8. Organise the preparation and training of the volunteer.
  9. Explain the mission of the organisation.
  10. Monitor and support volunteers.
  11. Identify the relationship between volunteers and full-time staff.
  12. Develop motivation
  13. Define rules for closing the work relationship.


It is worthwhile rethinking the above processes in a system and visualising the relationships and their interactions with each other. The volunteer management model below helps. [2] The figure describes the process of recruiting, training and leaving of the volunteer workforce.


[1] Ochman, M. – Jordan, P.: Volunteers: A Valuable Resource. 1997. Hopkins Training Network Nonprofit Management Handbook series. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies
[2] Csordás I.: Hosszútávú önkéntes programok kihívásai és megoldási lehetőségek (előadás). Önkéntesmenedzsment kihívások hosszú távon Konferencia, 2016. szeptember 22. Budapest, Szépművészeti Múzeum – Magyar Nemzeti Galéria


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