Are you clued up about the legal aspects of involving volunteers @DudleyCVS #wiseupwednesdays

vols+law1Volunteers and the Law Training

Have you ever asked the following?

  • Do volunteers have the same rights as employees?
  • Health and safety doesn’t apply to volunteers does it?
  • Do your volunteers sign a contract?
  • Are you aware how easy it is to create a contract with volunteers?vols+law2


Many volunteer-involving organisations are not aware of the legal implications when working with volunteers. Our session aims to dispel myths and clarify your legal responsibilities. We also use actual case studies where volunteers have taken organisations to court, to help demonstrate bad practice when involving volunteers.


We aim to give participants:

  • An understanding of how current legislation has implications for volunteers and volunteer involving organisations.vols+law3
  • Knowledge of good practice recommendations relating to the management of volunteers.
  • Participants will also have the opportunity to plan for their own organisation in terms of how legislation affects management of their own volunteers.

As there’s quite a lot of ‘heavy’ information, we deliver the session in sections and there are activities to break up the training, so it’s not all ‘death by Powerpoint’


Seven Deadly Sins [7] Detachment @DudleyCVS @NCVOVolunteers #wiseupwednesdays

sds -7Our seventh and final sin is DETACHMENT.   I’m talking about detachment by those who manage your group or organisation, who may well be a team of volunteers.

Prime examples of this deadly sin are:

Refusing to engage with volunteers – seeing themselves as separate from, or better than volunteers, which is never a good thing. Strong organisations are those were everyone is treated equally be they a volunteer or the Chief Officer.  Mingling with volunteers at events and taking time to chat to them is important and a great way to build strong relationships.

Management not seeing the relevance of volunteers – this could include ignoring volunteers’ contributions, refusing to make time on agendas for meetings to discuss volunteering issues, or even not supporting the person responsible for volunteers e.g. bringing in unrealistic targets or expectations for the volunteer co-ordinator or volunteers.

Management not seeing the value of volunteers – not seeing any value in the time and input from volunteers, or what they bring to the organisation.

“We don’t need to thank our volunteers or treat them well, they’ll turn up anyway!”

is not a good attitude but this was a comment from a Volunteer Co-ordinator I met. They didn’t see the value in any kind of structured support for volunteers either. Hmm I wonder why they couldn’t keep volunteers?

Not resourcing volunteers – we are talking about time not just money here. Volunteers are not “free labour” although I’ve heard them be referred to as exactly that in the past. Resourcing volunteering is not just about finding funds to pay out-of-pocket expenses, fund training or purchase special polo shirts, although these are important things to factor into funding bids: it’s about investing time to ensure that volunteers are involved in the organisation, following good practice guidelines. Nominating someone to be responsible for volunteers and ensuring that person has the time, and capacity to do it as part of their role is essential.  Giving volunteer management responsibilities to someone who is already over stretched is never going to work!  Have you assessed their skills? Do they need mentoring from another member of staff, or do they need some training in volunteer management skills?

Not seeking their views – overlooking volunteers’ views and opinions may not seem like a sin to those who manage an organisation, but it’s a useful exercise to seek them and volunteers have come up with ideas to develop, or improve services/projects in some organisations. It’s useful to remember too that if you work with clients/service users, volunteers are often the people with time to sit down and chat with them, which puts the volunteers in a unique position of spotting issues and ways to improve the service.

Not recognising and celebrating their volunteers – see 6th Deadly Sin post

Being resistant to new volunteers – where some purely volunteer-led groups have developed and needed to recruit volunteers who are not board/committee members, this can become an issue.  New volunteers joining the group may not be made welcome as existing volunteers have their own way of doing things and don’t want to change. One group I supported, closed with £26,000 in the bank, as new board members would not stay with the group due to the Chairman’s attitude to ‘outsiders’!  The existing board had been together for many years and chose to close the group rather than change.

I need help!

The Volunteer Centre can help you with any area of good practice when involving volunteers, so please get in touch or 01384 573381 and ask for Eileen

Seven Deadly Sins [6] Ingratitude @DudleyCVS @NCVOVolunteers #wiseupwednesdays

sds -6Our sixth sin INGRATITUDE is quite simply something that can make or break your relationship with your volunteers and affect your retention rates too.  There’s no secret to keeping volunteers, organisations who celebrate and value their volunteers are those who hang onto them!

I recently published a blog post entitled ‘a volunteer is for life and not just Volunteers Week’ so I’m not going to repeat myself and I hope you’ll find the previous post a useful read too.

Have you heard the saying?

The most precious thing you can give is your time

This is what volunteers are giving to your group or organisation, so saying ‘thank you’ for the time and commitment they give is important.  Why not thank them every time they come in as they are leaving.  It’s not much effort and the benefits are huge. As I’ve said before some volunteers don’t like a fuss, but a ‘thank you’ is simple good manners for their contribution.

I thought I would share some hints/tips on showing gratitude to your volunteers, which have been shared by organisations who hang onto their volunteers very successfully. These are all things which will demonstrate to your fabulous volunteers just how much you value their support.

  • Recognition
  • Gratitude
  • Getting to know them
  • Building a relationship
  • Responsibility
  • Support
  • Let them know what difference they make
  • Keep informed
  • Birthday and Christmas cards
  • Volunteer party
  • Volunteer meals
  • Regular volunteer meetings
  • Keep your promises
  • Managing expectations
  • Honesty
  • Promote what they do
  • Respect
  • Nominate for Volunteer Awards
  • Social events/activities

I need help!

The Volunteer Centre can help you with any area of good practice when involving volunteers, so please get in touch or 01384 573381 and ask for Eileen