Volunteer Handbook VS Staff Handbook And Other Volunteer Management Topics | Track It Forward

Volunteer Handbook VS Staff Handbook And Other Volunteer Management Topics

Last updated by Kasey Murphy on 11/12/2020

Volunteer Coordinator Resource Community Recap Aug 11-17

The volunteer management and coordinator community always have new topics and concerns to share. If you are a part of our community, you know just how helpful and supportive the community is when it comes to a variety of topics!

Last week, one of the largest topics was dealing with volunteer handbooks, and how some organizations may differentiate what is put in staff handbooks versus what is put in volunteer handbooks. Specifically when it comes to a confidentiality policy for volunteers and staff. Check it out below, along with some comments and other buzzing topics!

Volunteer Handbooks And Separating Policies For Staff and Volunteers

I have a quick question for you all as I draft our new volunteer handbook. I'm being asked to use the same confidentiality policy for volunteers that we use for staff. But, as I read it, I feel like either my risk tolerance is different than that of my organization, or, we need separate policies for staff and volunteers (and the wording in the staff one to no longer include volunteers under the umbrella policy). My tendency is leaning towards a shorter, more succinct policy for volunteers (basically: don't share info you learn in the course of your volunteering, even with family, and if you feel you're in a situation where information needs to be shared like a medical emergency, find the Volunteer Coordinator to take the next step).
Does your organization have separate confidentiality policies or the same for staff and volunteers?
If it's needed, I work at a residential facility for women who face low income or who have experienced homelessness. Our volunteers don't really have access to information about residents other than what they may learn in general conversation with them.
Thank you!!

Check out the post here! 

Drafting a new volunteer handbook is no small task. Sometimes, if the organization you work with has a staff handbook for employees that may do similar tasks, it could be a good idea to use some of their handbooks in the volunteer handbook. But, how do you differentiate what goes in a volunteer handbook versus what should just be a part of the employee handbook? 

One of the members of the Volunteer Coordinator Facebook Community had the same question. Their volunteer program is a residential facility for women who face low income or who have experienced homelessness. Volunteers may sometimes come in contact with these women, and it is important for their volunteer handbook to have some sort of confidentiality clause. 

Confidentiality clauses are very common in volunteer handbooks, and in employee handbooks as well! But, since the volunteers may not be dealing with as much personal information as an employee who is scouting and placing these women- should the volunteer handbook hold the same confidentiality clause? 

Let’s see what our volunteer community had to say! 

Comments about Volunteer Handbook Confidentiality Clauses: 

  • “In essence, our policy is the same, but the agreement that our volunteers sign is shorter and tailored in relevancy to our unpaid cohort.”

  • But, if a volunteer role requires more information and database exposure, then there may need to be more added: “For any volunteers utilizing internal databases (we work in healthcare) we have a more in-depth agreement that aligns with staff. Just an added reminder that the information they may access is sensitive and reiterates the privacy legislation around that.”

  • “We have separate policies but we used the employee policy as the template. HR was very clear that volunteers are not employees and the language in the policy should make that clear. "Job Description" is "Task Description". Employee is Volunteer, ect.”

  • “We have separate policies. One thing I would note is to not wait until something happens to have to write it into the policy. Think of all worse case scenarios, as well as common scenarios, and how you would want them to be responded to so it fits your policy!”

  • “I just completed our handbook and I am using the same for both and also have a volunteer agreement.”

  • “My company share the same confidentiality policy for staff and volunteers.

  • “Ours is the same. Check with your risk management folks/insurance carrier before you make a final call on it.”

So, it looks like when it comes to volunteer handbooks and confidentiality clauses, organizations can vary! When it comes to volunteers and employees, there are some organizational laws that come into play, so it is always safe to check with HR and risk assessment teams to ensure if you should be treating volunteers and employees the same or different depending on the aspects. 

Resources For Volunteer Handbooks and Confidentiality Clauses

Volunteer Management Workshops 

Hello again, I am wondering if any of you wonderful Volunteer Coordinators could recommend a Volunteer Management program/ course/ workshops that any of you have taken and would recommend? I have a Recreation & Leisure diploma which has benefited me in many ways in my career, but I would also like to hone in on my volunteer leadership skills as well.
I am looking for something very flexible with timing as I am still working full-time and am a busy mom. I am open to International online schools as well.
Thanks in advance!

See the post for yourself here! 

Volunteer Management workshops and programs are a great way to refresh your knowledge on volunteer management and ensure you are being the best at your job! Here’s some advice from the comments! 

Comments and Resources for Volunteer Managers:

  • “I have a long blog post linked to this page on Where to Go for Volunteer Management Training. Over 50 resources are linked. There are a lot of opportunities out there!”

  • “My local center for nonprofit management started offering a Volunteer Management Certificate program. Also, some Community Colleges also offer certificate programs under their nonprofit section. Universities can also offer continuing education programs in volunteer management. Depends on your state.”

  • Volunteer Management Course from Volunteer Pro “I took the volunteer recruitment course from Volunteer Pro and thought it was incredible.”

  • Mavanetwork.org has an 8 module training on volunteer administration best practices. I believe it is offered online now. Check it out. You can also join as a member and unlock all sorts of helpful resources and a community of volunteer admin people!”

  • We created a volunteer management handbook that may have some resources and downloads that you will enjoy! In addition, our resources contain and “Managing Volunteers” section with many helpful tips and articles! 

Volunteer Ambassador Programs

Hey everyone! Me again. I would love to start a Volunteer Ambassador program for my organization. Does anyone in this group have an ambassador program? How did you start the program? What things do you task your ambassadors with?

Do you have a volunteer ambassador program? Let us know about it in the post! 

A Volunteer Ambassador Program can be a great way for volunteers to support the organization in a multitude of ways, and be the face of the organization to the public. A volunteer ambassador program can be very vague, so be sure to clearly outline and detail your ambassador program before opening it up! 

Advice From the Comments on Volunteer Ambassador Programs

  • “Yes, they are amazing and save our charity so much money on travel expenses.

  • “They attend cheque presentations on our behalf snd give thank you speech. Some start a fundraising group in their local area and recruit supporters. They leave and service collection boxes in local areas, source ballot prizes and give talks for us. Some organize local fundraising events for us. I have a comprehensive induction session for them to cover health & safety, lone working, safeguarding, boundaries, listening skills and representing the brand. They are given a toolkit and uniform and id badge. The toolkit contains info. Leaflets, some speeches, blank presentation cheques for photo ops. Vol. Handbook with charity policies, procedures, and info In it.”

  • ‘We have a staff point of contact for each ambassador and provide support and supervision. We organize recognition and feedback events for them. We also carry out a comprehensive risk assessment and cheque with insurers each role additional to current volunteer role descriptions. Volunteers also sign their induction checklist and a volunteer agreement form outlining our expectations of them and their understanding of our responsibility to them.”

  • “The way we got started was sketching out a plan and also putting a checkbox on our debrief form under 'Other ways to support the mission.' If you're calling it Volunteer Ambassador, you would probably need a link to clarify on there. What we actually put on our debrief form was 'Set up a display table at a local or district event'.”

  • “My last organization created one. The Ambassadors applied, received public speaking training, and went to community events of various types in our behalf. We were hoping to use it more as a fundraising tool to allow us to offer corporate groups we were courting lunch and learning opportunities as well as continuing to be in the community.”

Resources on Volunteer Ambassador Programs 

Thanks for checking out the article recap! Don’t hesitate to post into the group with any questions or concerns you have - you can see how helpful the community is!