Volunteering agreements - should you have one?

11 Mar 2015

Volunteering agreements – should you have one?

ivo.org 27 Feb 2015
Sonia says :

The debate currently featuring on the ivo website should, in my opinion, read – Volunteering agreements – why you should have one.

Whatever we do in life we all want to know what is expected from us and, where this involves other people, we will all try to set out for those others a framework that will help us to make that relationship a good, working one. Think about partnerships, parenthood, employment – all have written and unwritten rules to them. Where we do not have these rules we know that relationships can break down or exist but become dysfunctional.

Why then should volunteering be any different?

If we are to give our time to an organisation or individual, surely it is better that we know what is expected of us and what we can expect from that organisation. An agreement is not a one way street - what makes it different from a contract is that whilst it has offer and acceptance, it does not have consideration (compare, say, to an employment contract where the consideration is salary).

At Jewish Care we are currently embarking on updating all our agreements with all our volunteers, including those who sit on advisory groups. Why? Simply put, it offers us an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to our volunteers and acts as a reminder to those who give us their time what we are asking of them. It also, I would argue, acts as a tool by which we can show our volunteers that we appreciate that everything they do for us enables us to provide the breadth and quality of services that are on offer to the community.

Whilst we all agree that these agreements will never be binding in law, the concept of ensuring that everyone has a clear understanding of their commitment and our shared expectations of each other, should point to us all committing to ensuring all our volunteers have a relevant agreement with the organisation.

If you don’t have an agreement in place, either as a volunteer or the manager of volunteers, for me it is a no-brainer – you really should!

Sonia Douek is Head of volunteering and community development at Jewish Care and has developed a strategy for the organisation that has seen the growth of volunteers in the organisation reach 3,000 people.

Register to receive updates from Jewish Care.