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Writing a volunteering strategy

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It's important that involving volunteers supports your organisation's mission and aims.

A volunteering strategy shows your organisation is serious about volunteering. It helps everyone understand your vision for volunteers and why you're involving them.

What a volunteering strategy is

A volunteering strategy sets out what you want to achieve with volunteering and how.

It explains how volunteers will contribute to the organisation’s aims. It also covers how it will find, recruit and support them.

It can be part of your organisational strategy or separate.

What to include

To make sure your strategy supports your aims, it should answer these questions.

  • What is the organisation's aim and how will volunteers help to meet it?
  • What opportunities and risks will the organisation face in the next three to five years? How will these affect volunteering?
  • How will the organisation set tasks and activities for volunteers?
  • Who will make sure these tasks are meaningful?
  • What skills or attributes will volunteers need?
  • How will the organisation share volunteer opportunities?
  • How will equity, diversity and inclusion best practice be embedded into volunteering to make it inclusive and accessible?
  • How will the organisation recruit, train and support volunteers?
  • How will the organisation value and develop volunteers?
  • What processes and policies will the organisation need to support volunteering?
  • How will the organisation remove or reduce barriers to volunteering?
  • How will the organisation show the impact of its volunteering?
  • How will the organisation seek feedback and use volunteers’ experiences to improve things?
  • What other resources or systems will the organisation need to make volunteering successful?
  • Who will make decisions about volunteering and the policies that affect it?

Who to involve

Speak to a diverse range of people to help you write your strategy.

  • Senior staff and/or trustees. Make sure you get senior support for your strategy and the resources needed to make it happen. Include people who are key decision-makers for relevant processes or funding.
  • Volunteer managers. Anyone already managing volunteers at your organisation will know lots of useful information. They can bring knowledge and experience from their networks too.
  • The people your organisation helps. If volunteers will help you run services, speak to users of that service about their needs.
  • Paid staff. If paid staff may work alongside volunteers, consult with them about your plans. This can help to address any concerns they have.
  • Existing volunteers. If your organisation already has volunteers, they'll have useful insights and suggestions.

It’s a good idea to give people different ways to contribute to your strategy. For example, you could hold focus groups and do an online survey. Ask the people you want to reach how they would like to share their views.

You can also bring in an external consultant to help develop your strategy. Find out about NCVO's strategic volunteering consultancy.

Think about resources

It's important to make sure volunteering is part of your organisation's financial planning. This will help make sure you have the resources to meet your volunteering strategy.

Depending on the size of your organisation, resourcing requirements might include:

  • budgets for volunteer involvement (including expenses, training, equipment and recognition)
  • funding to adapt roles or give more support to volunteers with different needs
  • software to help manage volunteers well or for volunteers to carry out their role
  • paid staff roles to support volunteer management
  • research into how opportunities and risks facing your organisation will affect volunteering
  • being ready to meet any financial implications of this new knowledge.

You'll need to discuss your volunteering strategy with those responsible for resource planning. Make sure they understand and support it.

Useful documents

Reviewing your strategy

You should review your volunteering strategy with the people who helped you write it on at least an annual basis. This will keep it up-to-date and relevant to the organisation's strategic direction.

Reviewing your strategy will help you respond to trends and changes in volunteering. It'll help you overcome challenges and develop volunteering further in your organisation.

Last reviewed: 12 April 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 12 April 2021

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