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Factsheets / Guides

For Volunteers | For Organisations | For Companies

For Volunteers

Virtual Volunteering

Interested in volunteering but short on time? Consider taking up virtual volunteering! Many organisations now offer volunteering roles that can be carried out from the comfort of the volunteer's home. If you are a highly skilled IT, Communications or Marketing professional, virtual volunteering could be ideal for you.

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(for students) Make a change - Become a Volunteer!

Produced in partnership by Volunteer Ireland and the Union of Students in Ireland, this guide provides third-level students in Ireland with an introduction to volunteering. 'Make a change - become a volunteer!' highlights ways in which students can volunteer, the benefits of volunteering and case studies of some inspiring student volunteers.

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Volunteering for Jobseekers

Are you searching for a job and feel like you need to develop your skills or build your confidence? Maybe you want to try a completely different career path? Volunteering is a great way to achieve all of these goals! Check out our new guide to volunteering for jobseekers.

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What rights do I have as a volunteer?

Deciding to give your time to volunteer for an organisation is an important and wonderful choice. When looking for a suitable volunteer role, most people focus on the role itself and the tasks required. It’s also important to do your research on the organisation you want to volunteer with. This guide lays out what you can do to make sure you have a positive volunteering experience, and what to do if it doesn’t go as planned. 

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Quick Start Guide to Volunteering

Looking for a quick introduction to volunteering? Look no further! This guide covers what you can do and how you can do it.

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For Organisations

Why Do Organisations Involve Volunteers?

Your organisation’s view on the role of volunteers and what they can bring to your organisation will determine how you manage and involve them. The most successful organisations involve rather than use volunteers. It is good practice to reflect this in all your communications and to remember that volunteering is a two-way relationship –one that should benefit both the volunteer and the organisation.

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Steps for Setting Up a Volunteer Programme

A key starting point to setting up a new volunteer programme is to remind yourself why your organisation involves volunteers in the first place and identify what exactly you want to achieve through involving volunteers. A clear vision and understanding as to how volunteers can contribute to your organisation will help determine how you support, involve and manage your volunteers.

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How Can Your Local Volunteer Centre Support You?

Volunteer Centres help individuals find meaningful volunteer opportunities within the local community and work to build the capacity of community and voluntary organisations to involve volunteers effectively. They provide a high quality volunteer placement service in a friendly and professional manner, offering professional support, advice and training to volunteer-involving organisations.

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Designing a Successful Volunteer Recruitment Advertisement

Taking time and care in creating an effective advertisement and advertisement campaign is crucial in the overall recruitment process. Getting your advertising right will improve success rates and speed up the process of finding suitable volunteers to involve in your organisation.

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Reference Checks

A reference check is a key step in the volunteer recruitment and screening process. Checking references verifies details gathered from the volunteer during the application and interview process and helps assess the applicant’s suitability for the role. References can be given over the phone or in writing. In some situations reference checks are an appropriate alternative to the Garda Vetting process. In other situations reference checks can complement the screening procedures already in place.

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Guide to Interviewing Volunteers

The interview is an essential step in the volunteer screening and selection process and provides an opportunity for both the organisation and volunteer to learn more about one another. The interview is invaluable in assessing if the applicant is a good “fit” for your organisation. It is important to remember that an interview is a two-way process and, even though a volunteer attends an interview, it does not mean they have fully decided to volunteer with your organisation. Therefore, you should outline the benefits of volunteering with your organisation, the supports you can offer, and how the volunteer can help further your mission and aims.

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Preparing for a Volunteer’s First Day

Volunteers have high hopes and expectations when they sign up to volunteer. It’s important that organisations address their needs and expectations, starting with making them feel welcome on the first day. Properly preparing for a volunteer’s first day will ensure they immediately feel part of the team, allay any nerves they may have and help you to retain your volunteers.

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Induction Checklist

Induction is an information sharing process to help volunteers feel part of the team and become productive as quickly as possible within their role. Planning and creating an induction programme and induction pack ensures all volunteers receive all relevant information and are introduced to the organisation in the same way. Below is a sample induction checklist. It may take some effort to collate the information initially but once it’s done, it can be updated and added to easily.

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Volunteer Agreement

A volunteer agreement is the foundation of the working relationship between an organisation and its volunteers. A volunteer agreement clarifies the expectations of both parties in relation to length of time commitment, confidentiality, attendance at training, and adherence to the organisation’s policies and procedures. Below is a sample volunteer agreement, which can be adapted to suit the needs of your organisation.

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Volunteer Expenses

Whilst it is best practice for volunteer-involving organisations to pay out-of-pocket expenses for volunteers, it is also recognised that some organisations do not have the resources to do so. Either way, it is important that organisations have an expenses policy in place and that volunteers are aware of which expenses are covered right from the start. Common expenses covered include travel to and from the place of volunteering and lunches. We strongly recommend that organisations do not provide a flat rate for volunteers for these or other expenses and, instead, reimburse expenses upon receipt. Expense processes typically include submitting receipts on a regular basis accompanied by an expenses form. Once submitted and approved, volunteers receive an expenses cheque. Below is a sample volunteer expenses form that may be altered to suit the needs of your organisation.

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Sample Exit Interview Template

Volunteers may feel they can give more frank and open feedback when they have finished volunteering with your organisation. An exit interview provides an opportunity to gather valuable feedback which can help your organisation improve work practices and learn how to better retain volunteers. Volunteers are under no obligation to participate in an exit interview so do thank them for their time and honesty and remind them of the valuable contribution they have made during their placement.

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Motivating and Thanking Volunteers

People volunteer for a multitude of reasons: to give something back to their community; to gain or improve skills; to meet new people; because they are interested in an issue or cause; or because they have some free time on their hands. Acknowledging the work that volunteers do with your organisation and why ensures they will stay motivated and continue to work on your behalf. Here are some suggestions on how to motivate and thank volunteers.

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Screening and Selection

Screening and selection is the process of ensuring your organisation chooses the appropriate applicant for the appropriate role. Ideally, screening and selection incorporates a variety of steps and does not rely on any one method or measure. Getting each step right will improve the quality of applications and ultimately improve your chances of finding the right match. The level and extent to which you screen volunteers is determined by the services you provide and the nature of the role. Screening is particularly important if volunteers work with children, young people or vulnerable adults. Screening may also be necessary in cases where volunteers are unsupervised, deal with finances or visit a client’s home. It is vital to remember that screening does not provide a 100% guarantee that the volunteer will be a perfect fit.

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Charter for Effective Volunteering

The Charter for Effective Volunteering outlines the key expectations of both volunteers and organisations. 

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How to Develop a Volunteer Role Description

A volunteer role description defines what the volunteer’s purpose is and how they will fit into your organisation. It clarifies expectations and makes the process of recruitment and selection easier since the description can be used to determine a person’s suitability for the activity. It is a good idea to involve staff who may be working with the volunteer when developing the role description. They will understand the ins and outs of the role and know what skills will be required and what training should be provided.

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Reference Check Template

We recommend gathering your references by telephone, but this sample template may also be sent to the referees to fill out references in writing. Please note that this is a sample and not all of the elements will be relevant to every organisation. You may wish to add more information or subheadings as appropriate. 

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Sample Volunteer Role Description

As a guideline for developing volunteer role descriptions, we have developed this sample role description for a volunteer photographer. Please note that this is a sample and not all of the elements will be relevant to every organisation. You may wish to add more information or subheadings as required.

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Volunteer Application Form

A volunteer application form assists the process of recruitment and screening of volunteers by gathering information about an individual’s suitability for a given volunteer role. An application form should be clearly laid out, avoid employment terminology and only seek relevant information about the applicant. The level of detail will vary from organisation to organisation. We highly recommend developing a volunteer application form specifically for volunteers and advise against using an employee application form. This sample volunteer application form can be adapted to suit your organisation.

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Developing a Volunteer Policy for your organisation

Every organisation should have a volunteer policy in place and this step-by-step guide is designed to help you through the stages of putting such a policy together. Obviously, this is a guide and will not necessarily apply to every organisation or to every volunteer, but your local Volunteer Centre will be happy to help on an individual basis with specific issues or challenges.

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How to Create an Information Pack for Corporate Supporters

Is your organisation keen to tap into the resources and benefits that partnering with a company can provide? We have put together a checklist of what you should include in your information pack to attract the right corporate partner for your organisation.

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Volunteer Role Risk Assesments

Risk management is a system to forecast risks in advance and take proactive steps to deal with identified risks. Conducting volunteer role risk assessments will help promote and ensure the safety of volunteers, staff and service users within your organisation. Best practice suggests that risk assessments should be carried out for all volunteer roles. This guide provides an overview of the three basic steps to risk assesment and a template for volunteer role risk assesment.

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Volunteering in the Arts toolkit

The 'Volunteering in the Arts' toolkit was developed by Volunteer Ireland and Voluntary Arts Ireland and aims to provide arts groups with the practical advice required to help start or improve a volunteer programme. This toolkit provides a range or resources to help organisations of all sizes to better engage and manage their volunteers.

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Volunteer Management Health Check Guide

The Volunteer Management Health Check Guide has been developed to offer general guidance to volunteer-involving organisations in identifying and putting the necessary items in place to manage your volunteer programme more effectively, improve volunteer retention, and ultimately enhance your reputation as an organisation where volunteers want to be involved. The action plan has been developed to help your organisation identify the gaps in best practice within your volunteer programme and to develop a plan for gradually putting them in place.The Volunteer Management Health Check Guide is suitable for use by organisations that are putting a new volunteer programme in place or those who wish to audit or improve their current programme. 

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Engaging Corporate Volunteers in Your Nonprofit Organisation

This guide outlines the best approaches to take when engaging corporate volunteers.

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Dealing with annoying volunteer habits

Dealing with annoying habits can often lead to sensitive conversations that need to be handled delicately. This quick guide will give you advice on how best to approach these situations.

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Volunteer vs Intern

Many people are confused about the difference between a volunteer and an intern or whether there’s even a difference at all. While it’s true that both may have similar experiences and get similar benefits from their role, there are a few differences between a volunteer and an intern which require us to separate them out as positions.

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For Companies

10 Reasons Why Your Company Should Volunteer

Interested in volunteering but not sure if it's for your company? Check out these great reasons why your company should start volunteering!

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Blog

A Day in the Life: Event Volunteers

Mark Cummins volunteered at the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival during St. Patrick's Weekend 2017.The day began in earnest with the volunteers...

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Posted Mar 21 by Amy Woods

Blog

Celebrating International Volunteer Day!

International Volunteer Day is a global day that takes place every year on 5th December. It gives us a chance to recognise, thank and...

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Posted Nov 21 by Amy Woods
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