Volunteer rights

NCVO believes that volunteers should be treated fairly and with respect and ensuring that disputes or problems are dealt with appropriately is an important part of this.

There have been a number of cases of serious breaches of trust between volunteers and the organisations they volunteered. As a result of the mistreatment experienced by volunteers in these cases there was a call for clearly defined rights for volunteers and an external means of addressing complaints.

The Volunteer Rights Inquiry in November 2009 aimed to understand the nature and scope of the problems experienced by volunteers and to identify suitable remedies.

The Inquiry presented its initial findings in an interim report and following further consultation and feedback it formulated this call to action and issued its final report.

Call to action

The inquiry recognised the efforts already made by organisations to improve the volunteering experience but it also identified some areas where action should be taken for ongoing improvement. These were taken forward by the Call to Action progress Group which worked for two years to raise awareness of, and commitment to, the fair treatment of volunteers. The group published its final report in 2014.

NCVO still supports the recommendation of the inquiry for organisations that involve volunteers to sign up to the ‘3R promise’ proposed below and to ensure that they have a problem solving procedure or similar defined process for resolving issues with volunteers fairly and transparently.

NCVO also provides guidance to volunteers on what steps they can take if things go wrong to raise an issue and for organisations on developing a problem solving procedure .

By signing up to the 3R promise, organisations are making a commitment to work towards meeting each of the criteria set out below.

3R promise

We will endeavour to get it right from the beginning

  • Our organisation will follow guidance on good practice and ensure it has up to date policies and evidence this in appropriate reports
  • Our organisation will ensure that concerns of volunteers are listened to and given due consideration.

We will offer means to achieve reconciliation if things go wrong

  • Our organisation recognises that sometimes things go wrong and makes sure that everyone in the organisation knows how to deal with it
  • Our organisation will identify a trustee or equivalent to become a volunteering champion
  • Our organisation will appoint an individual who will monitor volunteer complaints and encourage rapid resolution in emerging conflicts. Volunteer complaints will be reviewed by directors / trustees on a regular basis
  • Our organisation will explore independent alternative conflict resolution when necessary.

We accept our responsibility

  • Our organisation explains and accepts its responsibility for its volunteers and their well-being and respects their wish to always have a fair hearing if a conflict arises
  • Our organisation will work with the Call to Action Progress Group to share lessons and improve standards
  • Our organisation will report publicly on the implementation of its 3R promise.

Complete the form below to sign up to the 3R Promise

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For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998, the data controller in respect of your personal data is NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations). Read what we will and will not do with your information.

Current supporters

The following organisations have already shown their support for our recommendations by signing up to the 3R promise:

  • A2Dominion
  • Aberlour Young Runaways Service
  • Association of Volunteer Managers
  • B3SDA/Bury Volunteer Centre
  • Balby Community Library Ltd
  • Barnsley CAB
  • Battersea Arts Centre
  • Beechwood Cancer Care Centre
  • Billing View Community Group
  • Black Women in the Arts
  • Blackpool's Diamond Community cic
  • blueSCI
  • Boston Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Breast Cancer Care
  • Brendoncare Foundation
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Burnley Boys & Girls Club
  • Calshot Disability Services
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Carers Information Service
  • Carers Wakefield
  • Citizens Advice, the membership organisation for Citizens Advice Bureaux
  • Community First East Hampshire
  • Community First for Portsmouth
  • Community First New Forest
  • Cookstown and Magherafelt Volunteer Centre
  • Derbyshire Districts Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Devon & Cornwall Food Association
  • Discover Filey
  • Doncaster College
  • Douglas Macmillan Hospice
  • Dover District Volunteering Centre
  • Eastwood Volunteer Bureau
  • Embrace Child Victims of Crime
  • Essex County Council
  • First Wessex
  • Gateshead Advice Centre
  • Gender Action UK
  • Gosport Voluntary Action
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
  • Guernsey Citizens Advice
  • Hand in Hand Volunteering Service Torbay
  • Healthwatch Birmingham
  • Healthwatch Darlington
  • Herts Aid
  • Hospital Radio Norwich
  • Humanity Research Foundation, Jhenidah (HRFJ)
  • Humber NHS Foundation Trust
  • Hypasniper
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Kingston Citizens Advice
  • Lancashire County Council
  • Lay Observers
  • Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
  • Luton Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Make, Do and Mend
  • Mediterranean Resources Network
  • Mount Hawke Youth Group
  • Naval Area Community Organisation
  • NCVO
  • New generation Outreach
  • Newcastle upon Tyne CAB
  • North West Kent Volunteer Centre
  • Options for Supported Living
  • P.O.V.V.A
  • pantonic steel orchestra - youth group
  • PDSA
  • Peterborough Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Plymouth Hope
  • Rainbow Trust Children's Charity
  • Raise theYouth Foundation
  • retailTRUST
  • Retired Caribbean Nurses Association (Bedford)
  • Riding for the Disabled - Coleraine group
  • RISC
  • RSPB
  • Salford CVS
  • Sanctuary Trust
  • Science Museum
  • Scope
  • Shepway Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Sleaford CAB
  • SOLAR - Northamptonshire
  • South Holland CAB
  • South Kesteven CAB
  • Southend-on-Sea Citizens Advice Bureau
  • St Clare Hospice
  • St George's Healthcare NHS Trust
  • St John Ambulance
  • St Mary's C of E Academy
  • Staffordshire and West Midlands Probation Trust
  • Staffordshire Moorlands Community & Voluntary Services
  • Surrey Police
  • Taunton Voluntary Action
  • The Accord Group
  • The Brendoncare Foundation
  • The Bridge Community Education Centre
  • The Care Forum
  • The South West External Events Team
  • The Sussex Beacon
  • Voluntary Action Calderdale
  • Voluntary Action Harrow
  • Voluntary Action North Lincolnshire
  • Voluntary Aid and Development Organization
  • Voluntary Arts
  • Voluntary Norfolk
  • volunteer aid nepal
  • Volunteer Centre Dacorum
  • Volunteer Centre Enfield
  • Volunteer centre Nuneaton & Bedworth
  • Voscur Limited
  • VSO UK
  • Ware Toy Library
  • Web Design 3D
  • Wellington Boot School Projects
  • West Lindsey CAB
  • White City Community Champions
  • Winchester Area Community Action
  • Wokingham & District Citizens Advice Bureau
  • WWFG
  • Yaarah Schools
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • YouthNet
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