Most community groups and small charities are managed and run by volunteers. Volunteers are people who spend unpaid time doing something to benefit others (unrelated to them) or to help the environment. Recruiting and retaining volunteers is not science, but there are some key things to know when working with them. Below we highlight some things to consider and where else you can find support and help.
Looking to recruit more volunteers, why not advertise through the Support Cambridgeshire volunteer portal? Click here to find out more.
Top tips and things to remember
- Most people volunteer because they want to make a difference, they want to feel their time is well used, feel appreciated and enjoy the experience.
- Volunteers gift their time, they do not have an obligation to perform their role, unlike someone in paid employment. If you create an obligation, for example obliging a volunteer to perform a role in return for training, you are in danger of creating a contract of employment which could leave you liable to pay the minimum wage, holiday and sick pay.
- Volunteers can be paid pre-agreed out-of-pocket expenses but they cannot generally receive other forms of cash or in-kind payments.
- You have a duty of care for volunteers and should ensure they are kept from physical and emotional harm. You must keep their personal data safe and in line with data protection guidance.
- Although the Equality Act does not apply to volunteers in the same way as employees, it is best practice to apply the same policies of fair and equal treatment to the recruitment and treatment of volunteers as would be required in law for paid staff¹
- You must take appropriate steps to identify potential volunteers who may be unsuitable for the roles they are being recruited for. These steps include putting in place appropriate volunteer recruitment, training and management processes. They may also require undertaking a safeguarding check to establish whether the potential volunteer has a criminal record or is barred from working with children and/or adults at risk of abuse.
1. Although there is no statutory obligation under equality legislation we recognise a clear moral obligation to promote fairness and equality in volunteering and value all individuals and their diverse & unique identity and background.
Need more support?
If you need more support or one-to-one advice on this topic, get in touch with either Hunts Forum or CCVS. We have knowledgeable staff who can advise and offer more support suitable for your organisation. If you are not sure which organisation to contact email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will pass you on to the right person.