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Guidelines for managing volunteers


Some estimates put the number of people working as volunteers in companies, projects and organisations throughout the UK at almost a million - and they don't all conform to the stereotype image of a youth or pensioner filling in their time 'doing good works'.

Today's volunteers include: people looking for more work experience prior to seeking training or employment; parents wanting to use their time whilst children are at school; active citizens contributing to their local community; concerned people of all ages keen to develop social, political or environmental practical action; retired people keen to remain physically and intellectually active; and a host of others.

Volunteers also need effective management and supervision. Many of the organisational structures used to support paid staff should also apply to those who work in an unpaid capacity. Accountability, training, reviews, personal development, support structures, reporting mechanisms, role descriptions and other personnel functions can all be deployed to ensure that volunteers are properly managed. All too often organisations abuse (and lose) their volunteers by failing to provide them with adequate management and support.

Neasa MacErlean provides a useful introduction to the issue in a recent article in the Guardian.

Several other websites can provide more detailed information including sample policies, procedures and a selection of training programmes for both volunteers and volunteer managers. See:
The National Centre for Volunteering
National Association of Volunteer Bureaux
Volunteer Development Scotland
Millenium Volunteers scheme
Northern Ireland Volunteer DevelopmentAgency
United Nations Volunteers
International Year of Volunteers 2001


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