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Blog > Why write a volunteer handbook?

Why write a volunteer handbook?

posted on 3:36 PM, September 12, 2016

by Maria Lahiffe

A volunteer handbook is an essential organizational resource. High-performing organizations require that all staff, paid and unpaid, work directly to advance the strategic plan priorities which have been set by the board and senior leadership. People need resources to make sure they are all pulling in the same direction.

1.      Onboarding

Onboarding is more than just orientation. Orientation is an event, the first step in the process of onboarding. You can use the volunteer handbook throughout the onboarding process, to communicate many things, including

  • Your organization’s mission, vision, and values
  • Policies and procedures
  • Your organizational culture
  • Specific job expectations

2.      Establishing the Importance of Volunteers to your Organization

Volunteers contribute far more than time, and in a way that cannot be reduced simply to an equivalent hourly wage. Volunteerism creates a norm of community concern and contribution, of contributing to a collective purpose instead of focusing on individualism. Volunteers contribute a number of benefits to any organization, benefits which should be spelled out in your volunteer handbook. These include:

  • Credibility – because volunteers have less of a vested interest in the organization, they can be very valuable for public relations
  • Energy
  • New ideas
  • Constructive criticism and feedback
  • Immediate access to the community

3.      Talent Management

Only 45% of organizations properly match volunteers’ skills with appropriate assignments. This often happens because a volunteer signs up for a particular posting out of a desire to support your organization, but you’re too busy to find out everything that volunteer is capable of doing. Your volunteer handbook can outline all of the ways volunteers can contribute to your organization. That way, once the initial assignment is completed, or the volunteer wants a bigger challenge, they know they can ask you about specific other needs within your organization.

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