Volunteering – resigning, fluctuation

One of the most difficult situations for practicing volunteer coordinators is when a volunteer leaves, either voluntarily or at the request of the coordinator or the organisation. In both cases, personal, emotional attachment, and difficulty in managing emotions take a toll.

Of course, it is much easier to let go of a volunteer if they leave the same way they arrived, of their own free will. At the same time, replacing them can be a challenge, and it can be frustrating to read criticism of our organisation from between the lines.


In such cases it definitely helps to conduct an exit interview with the volunteer, where we look for answers to the following:


  • What is the reason for the decision?
  • How long have they been considering resigning?
  • Do they have any suggestions for us, for the coordinators?
  • Do they have any insights or observation that might be useful to us?


It is even tougher when we, as coordinators, need to tell a person who has freely helped the organisation’s work without accepting payment, that we do not wish to work with them any more. Such a decision always requires careful consideration and good reasoning. Not because of the nightmare lawsuits we have heard of, but rather because of the individual’s self-esteem and advancement, and the preservation of the integrity and reputation of our organisation. Fortunately, such cases occur rarely (like the white raven), but they may affect us unexpectedly. Therefore, it is definitely worthwhile to be proactive in preparing for the worst.


Tip: in the Volunteer Manual of the Museum of Fine Arts, the following passages were included in the first ten years of the Volunteer Programme to be able to track the happenings of previously occurring events.

Termination of voluntary status

Termination: the volunteer contract may be terminated by either party with immediate effect.

Resigning: If possible, the termination of the relationship will be preceded by an exit interview.  In this interview, we explore the reasons why the volunteer is leaving the programme and whether these can be changed going forward. If a face-to-face meeting is not possible, we send an exit questionnaire to the volunteer, which they can also fill out and return to help improve our programme.

Dismissal: a volunteer may be dismissed from the Volunteer Programme if they do not perform their assignment on at least two consecutive occasions without notification or they are more than 30 minutes delayed with performance, or if they exceed their competence as a volunteer, grossly violate the principles of the museum, or demonstrate intolerable behaviour towards colleagues or other volunteers.

Absence: if the volunteer does not contact the programme coordinator or the responsible person for more than 2 months, their legal relationship with the museum, the Kultúra 2008 Művészeti Nonprofit Kft. and the Szépművészeti Kulturális Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft. will be terminated. If they subsequently wish to re-enter programme and are their request is approved by the volunteer coordinator, the returning individual will attend the introductory training for newcomers, in accordance with the details agreed with the coordinator.

Upon termination of the legal relationship for any reason, the former volunteer undertakes to return their badge to the volunteer coordinator.


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