It is important that you prepare your organisation for volunteers. Here are some initial questions, which can help you plan your volunteer program:

Reasons for involving volunteers and the mutual benefits

  • What is the key reason(s) for having a volunteer program?
  • What do volunteers offer?
  • What does the organisation offer volunteers?

By asking these fundamental questions, you can ensure you engage and work with volunteers in accordance with your mission and in the most effective way possible.

The organisational culture

  • What are the attitudes, beliefs and traditions that are fundamental to who you are as an organisation?
  • What impression and impact will your current staff and culture have on new volunteers?
  • What are your attitudes and beliefs in regards to volunteers?
  • How welcoming is your organisation?

These attitudes and beliefs inform the way you work with volunteers. If the program is to be successful, it is critical that the organisational culture is welcoming and valuing of volunteers.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Where are the areas of potential jobs for volunteers?
  • Have these roles been clearly articulated and communicated?
  • Who will supervise and support volunteers?
  • What jobs are appropriate for volunteers who may only work for one or two days a week?
  • How much flexibility can you allow around roles and responsibility?

These questions will help you develop volunteer job roles and ensure that they have adequate supervision. It will also assist you in being realistic about how many volunteers you can supervise and support.

Resources for community involvement in your program

  • What resources (physical, financial and human) will you need within your organisation to sustain a healthy volunteer program?
  • Are you able to get ongoing funding to continue the program?
  • Have you identified leaders with adequate time to coordinate and support volunteers?

Volunteer programs require substantial resources to be effective. You will need to consider resources such as physical space and resources to do the job, as well as financial resources for everything from insurance to recognition events. Perhaps the least recognised resource requirement is that of time.

Barriers to community involvement

  • What obstacles do volunteers face that might prevent them from joining or working within your organisation?
  • If you have attempted to develop a volunteer program before and it has not been successful, why has this been so?
  • Can you develop strategies to overcome these issues?

By examining barriers, we can develop strategies to overcome or address the most significant ones.

Once you have considered these questions, you will need to decide how your program will work. The volunteer management system should provide a planned approach to how the volunteer program is to be managed and a means of determining whether the program is achieving what it was established to do. One model for developing your program can be seen in the National Standards for Involving Volunteers in Non-Profit Organisations.

Factors to be included in a volunteer management system:

Policy and procedure

These should establish a commitment to the importance of volunteer participation. Most organisation policies will apply equally to volunteers. Additional policies may include: reimbursement of expenses such as travel; volunteer recognition; definition of a volunteer; insurance; scope of volunteer involvement; plus minimum and maximum time commitment.

Record systems

It is essential that all volunteer programs have available an efficient way to collect, store and retrieve essential data and information about the program. It is essential that personal data about individual volunteers be maintained confidentially in whatever form it is stored.

Appropriate risk management processes

For more information on volunteer risk management please refer to the Risk Managment and Insurance section of the Community Door website.

There are also a range of risk management resources and information for those working with volunteers available on the Volunteering Queensland website in the resource section for nonprofits.

We have launched a brand new course on the Community Door eTraining website which provides an introduction to the social service sector in Queensland for managers and organisations new to the sector. It is free for anyone to access. It features a profile of the sector in Queensland, insights into...
Volunteering Queensland’s State Volunteering Conference will take place on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 June, in Brisbane. The conference will offer attendees strategies and good practices to maximise the contribution of volunteers and enhance the impact of a volunteer program. There will be the...
The Australian Government is inviting organisations and individuals representing volunteer based community groups to apply for Volunteer Grants 2016 funding. These grants aim to support the efforts of Australia’s volunteers who help disadvantaged Australian communities and encourage inclusion of...
The Federal Department of Social Services recently commissioned a research report to better understand volunteering and giving within culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and Indigenous communities. The research provides some insights and case stories, highlighting the valuable contribution...
The Department of Social Services has commissioned research aimed at improving the knowledge base about giving and volunteering patterns and trends to support evidence-based policy development. The research aims to better understand volunteering and giving within culturally and linguistically...
Established in 1989, National Volunteer Week (NVW) is the largest annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of Australia's volunteers. The theme Give Happy, Live Happy was introduced in 2015, according to research that shows volunteers live happier and healthier lives. Everyone...
Australia’s 600,000 charities and not-for-profits, from international aid groups right down to the local tennis club, have recently received a major boost, as Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service launched the acclaimed Information Hub for a national audience. The Not-for-profit Law...
ACNC logo
The Australian Charities and Not‑for‑profits Commission (ACNC) has developed a new guide: Managing conflicts of interest: a guide for charity board members This guide has been developed to help explain what conflicts of interest are and how they can be managed. This guide explains conflicts of...
Celebrate International Volunteer Day on Friday 4 December at the Edge, Stanley Place, Cultural Centre, South Bank. His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland will officially launch and open nominations for next year's Queensland Volunteer of the Year Awards...
Volunteers packing food
Volunteering Tasmania has developed a new calculator to help you work out the value that your organisation is delivering to the economy of your area through the work of volunteers. The calculator takes into account the number of volunteer hours, as well as the money invested through food, fuel and...


Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
Volunteering Services Australia (VSA) is a national network of community development services, that aim to assist the hundreds of not-for-profit and charitable organisations with the recruitment and management of volunteers. It is a member-based organisation committed to community engagement and...
The Queensland Disaster Management website and the Get Ready website have a range of information and useful resources that can assist you to plan and prepare for an emergency. As part of your preparedness and planning for weather events, access regular weather forecast updates from the Bureau of...
A Blue Card Services online learning portal has been launched. The portal contains 10 videos which provide an overview of the legal requirement for organisations to develop a child and youth risk management strategy. The resources, in conjunction with the Child and Youth Risk Management Strategy...
The Community Resource Handbooks were launched by Volunteering Queensland on 12 May 2015. They consolidate the knowledge gained through Volunteering Queensland's community leadership work with more than 2,000 community groups over the past fifteen years. The handbooks are aimed at small to medium...
Industrial relations legislation in Queensland can be found on the Fair Work Commission's website . The main pieces of legislation are: Fair Work Act 2009 Fair Work Regulations 2009 Fair Work Commission Rules 2013
There are a range of legal structures which may be suitable for Queensland not-for-profit community groups. The four main options are: an incorporated association: Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD) and Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999 (QLD) a company limited by guarantee:...
Joel Ainscough, Queensland University of Technology

In the midst of a changing work environment there are some factors that employers in non-profit organisations may need to consider.

Provided here are some human resource management tips for consideration in the modern Australian workforce.

Work-life balance

The term “Work-...

Working together
Shelley Dunlop, QCOSS

The Victorian Government offers a comprehensive guide to ensuring that your organisation has a conflict resilient workplace. Conflict is a normal and often...

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print