Volunteer Management

Article modified: June 2022, Author:

Although it is called the ‘voluntary sector’, not all organisations use volunteers in carrying out their work. It is only the governing body (the people ultimately responsible for the organisation) who have to be volunteers, and even that is not absolutely essential. (See Glossary)

Recruiting and Managing Volunteers

  • A Volunteer Training Bank was hosted by the Museum of London website, but gone with site redesign in April 2018 – pdfs may still be accessible by searching the site, or googling Volunteer Training Bank.
  • Volunteering In the Arts Toolkit with English (2012) and Scottish (2015) versions.

See our Volunteering Opportunities page for online listing services/apps, other volunteering agencies, pro bono brokers etc.

Online Volunteering

Also known as virtual volunteering or micro-volunteering.

Online Volunteering, managed by United Nations Volunteers, is also worth a look.

Jayne Cravens is an expert in online volunteering. She refers to the above two sites, but adds (in a UKVPM posting) a caution not expect to launch a community of OVs over night. “Start with just one or two online volunteering tasks, and a very small number of online volunteers, so you can build up your own skills in online people management. Don’t overwhelm yourself — it’s so easy to do when starting an OV project.”

Organisations for Volunteer Managers

Slightly different is the Association of Independent Volunteer Centres, a collaboration of five volunteer centres in Northern Ireland. Website disappeared at May 2017, but only registered as a NI charity in 2015.

Training and skills for Volunteer Managers

As well as short courses provided on relevant subjects by most of the umbrella bodies listed in the first section on this page, and those listed on our short courses page, check out:

  • Investing in Volunteers is a quality standard for organisations that involve volunteers in their work, covering planning for volunteer involvement, recruiting volunteers, selecting and matching volunteers and supporting and retaining volunteers.
  • National Occupational Standards for Managing Volunteers – see our Training Resources page.
  • Institute of Leadership & Management has qualifications which starts at NVQ level 3 and do go up to level 5 (link missing at Oct. 2014). For the nearest ILM Centre offering the NVQs phone 01543 266867.
  • OpenLearn: Involving Volunteers A short online course on volunteering developed by Volunteer Scotland and the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership at Open University Business School. “This course is about the essential things you need to consider to ensure a positive experience for individuals engaging in volunteering.”
  • Various Scottish courses from Volunteer Scotland.
  • One hour online sessions to improve the way to involve volunteers from Rebecca Tully.
  • New Zealand Competencies for Managers of Volunteers are worth checking.

Volunteer Management Software

Be Collective Web-based, supports “organisations of all sizes to promote and manage their volunteering, while also enabling organisations to track and monitor their impact”. A Tech for Good company backed by Wise Foundation funds.

Better Impact (previously Volunteer Squared) is a web-based system, originally from Canada.

Three Rings, produced by a team of volunteers working for Three Rings CIC, a not-for-profit company. In use by university Nightlines, Samaritan branches, community libraries etc.

Simply Connect seems to be the new name for VC-Connect (developed by Voluntary Action Sheffield), which developed a back-office system for volunteer centres to track the organisations and volunteers they are working with. See info on the connected Volunteer Connect online platform.

Do-It , originally a listings website for volunteering vacancies, now says “through our technology people build meaningful connections, do good things, and feel healthier and happier as a result.”

TeamKinetic A web based system, designed in Manchester.

Volbase: There are various programs with this name, including one used by IBM for their own use in volunteer matching.

VolSoft, an American outfit, produces The Volunteer Reporter, which has been mentioned on UKVPM as worth checking.

Volgistics is a web-based recruiting tracking and coordinating system from the US. The previous VolunteerWorks desktop program has been retired.

VolunteerHub is another American online offering for managing volunteers.

Also see: Membership (and fundraising) systems will often have relevant facilities for volunteer management.

Further Resources

More information on the web


Volunteer Management Issues

A lot of avoidable tensions between volunteers and the rest of an organisation are about differences in expectations, often unvoiced. Remember it is a two-way contract – volunteers want something in return for their efforts, whether it is ‘only’ a feeling of satisfaction from doing something useful or contributing to society. They could also be looking for work experience, including learning new skills, something to put on their CV or a chance to influence. It is helpful if this ‘unwritten contract‘ is out in the open, along with what level of commitment the organisation is looking for, and policies on behaviour (e.g. advance warning of absences, conforming to equal opportunities requirements) and expenses, for instance. You should make sure that this can’t be interpreted as an employment contract, which could open a whole can of worms.

For issues around trade union relations and how volunteers relate to paid staff in providing services, see our Glossary, under Drain Guidelines, for Guidelines for relations between volunteers and paid workers in the Health and Personal Social Services.

For legal issues see Volunteers section under Legal matters, or Volunteer expenses.

Older volunteers

VITA (Volunteering Initiative for the Third Age) was a project of WRVS (now Royal Voluntary Service), to raise the profile of volunteering by older people, and to remove barriers. Project closed Nov ’06.

Insurance can be an issue leading to upper age limits being imposed. Proper health and safety risk assessments could be a better way of deciding whether a volunteer is suitable for/capable of a particular job.


One thought on “Volunteer Management”

  1. There is also Volunteer Friendly Award http://www.volunteerfriendly.org.uk licensed to be delivered by 26 Third Sector Interfaces in Scotland. It is based on IiV and is a quality standard in best practice in volunteer management . Developed in 2009 by Volunteer Centre Dundee and over 300 organisations in Scotland have achieved it.

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