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Running a volunteer induction

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What volunteer inductions are

Volunteer inductions introduce new volunteers to your organisation and their role.

They help volunteers feel more confident and able to start their roles well. This is an important part of offering a good volunteering experience. Dependent on your organisation, an induction might be one-to-one, a group event, or be made up of several different parts.

Remember that volunteers come from many backgrounds, with different skills, experiences and motivations. The induction process is a key opportunity to create a sense of belonging for your volunteers.

It’s important to run volunteer inductions that work for your volunteers, as well as the role they will be in. Ask each new volunteer whether there is anything specific they need to fully benefit from their induction, and make adjustments to support them where possible.

What to include

Start by covering practical information about a volunteer’s role. You should:

  • check they understand their role and what you expect of them
  • introduce them to other staff and volunteers
  • show them around the place where they will be volunteering
  • explain who they can go to if they have any questions or problems
  • show them where they can find the resources they need
  • let them know about breaks
  • explain how to claim expenses
  • ask them to shadow other experienced volunteers or paid members of staff
  • make sure they have anything else they need to be able to volunteer successfully – for example, flexibility around childcare.

Sharing more information

It's also helpful to share more information about your organisation.

This often includes:

  • relevant policies and procedures, such as safeguarding, equal opportunities or data protection
  • the organisation's history, values and structure
  • how to deal with complaints and areas of concern
  • the organisation’s current strategy
  • how complaints and areas of concern are dealt with.

You should go through this information with the volunteer. Encourage them to ask questions about anything they aren't sure about.

It often helps volunteers if you also give them this information in a handbook or pack. Ask them if they need the information in another format, such as large print or as an audio recording.

Who to involve

In most cases, a volunteer coordinator and the volunteer’s named supervisor will be involved in their induction. But it’s also a great opportunity to introduce them to other volunteers. You could:

  • involve existing volunteers in training on how to perform routine tasks
  • assign new volunteers a current volunteer as a ‘buddy’ to help them settle in
  • include an opportunity for new and existing volunteers to socialise and get to know each other.

Volunteers may also benefit from introductions to other key figures in your organisation – for example, the chief executive or chair of trustees.

After the volunteer induction

Some volunteers may need longer to complete the induction process or feel confident about starting their role. If a volunteer is finding it challenging to complete their induction, you could:

  • discuss what they feel might help them to progress and identify any barriers they’re facing
  • clarify what the organisation can do to support them and make a revised induction plan together
  • explore whether delivering or presenting information in different ways might be helpful, for example reading through key documents together to highlight anything that’s unclear
  • ask an experienced volunteer to buddy with them beyond the induction period to help them get started
  • check whether they feel this is still the right role for them, in case their circumstances have changed
  • refer back to the role description, and explore whether a different role might be better suited to them, where appropriate.

The changes you’re able to make to the induction will ultimately depend on the time and resource available to your organisation.

Continue to check in with new volunteers after their induction has ended, through regular supervision.

For more information, read our guidance on supporting and managing volunteers.

Last reviewed: 12 April 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 12 April 2021

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