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Writing volunteer role descriptions

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What volunteer role descriptions are

Volunteer role descriptions outline what a volunteer role involves. They are important for helping staff and volunteers understand their roles.

You should give volunteers clear role descriptions. These are often written, but some volunteers may need them in another format, such as in large print or as a video.

Role descriptions should be consistent across your organisation and follow your volunteer policy.

Use them to:

  • give volunteers more information than you can give in person
  • allow them to compare a role with their skills and expectations
  • help you measure their performance
  • help others understand how the role applies to theirs.

What to include in a role description

A role description should include:

  • the role title
  • aims and expectations of the role
  • an outline of the role's tasks and responsibilities
  • role boundaries and any activities volunteers need to avoid
  • whether you expect the volunteer to adhere to certain policies or procedures for example, health and safety, equity, diversity and inclusion
  • who to ask about changes to the role (for example making a role home-based if that helps someone to volunteer)
  • if you will pay expenses and for what
  • performance targets or measures of success.

You could include:

  • the name of the person the volunteer reports to
  • why a new volunteer might like to take up the opportunity
  • location and hours
  • how the role fits with the organisation's work
  • expectations of behaviour and dress (if appropriate)
  • essential and desirable skills and qualifications
  • required person specifications (if appropriate)
  • how to find out about other opportunities.

Giving volunteers a good experience

When writing your role description, make sure what you’re offering represents a good volunteering experience.

In January 2019 NCVO published its first Time Well Spent report on experiences of volunteering in England . This research identified eight things that make up a good experience for volunteers.

  • Inclusive of everyone
  • Flexible around people's lives
  • Impactful and makes a difference
  • Connected to others, the cause and the organisation
  • Balanced, doesn't overburden the volunteer
  • Enjoyable and makes people feel good
  • Voluntary, not an obligation
  • Meaningful to volunteers' lives, interests and priorities

Read more about experiences of volunteering in England in our Time Well Spent reports.

Last reviewed: 12 April 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 12 April 2021

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