Volunteering Tips

“Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain of any kind”. Volunteering is usually but not exclusively for charities and other voluntary organisations, although other organisations such as hospitals also use volunteers. Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose, satisfaction and accomplishment. You can use it to share your experience or to learn some new skills. You will be contributing to a worthwhile cause and you will probably have fun and meet new people as you do it. There are plenty of opportunities out there.

 

In deciding where to volunteer you might like to consider:

  • What are you already involved in and would like to continue?

  • What interests you, what have you always wanted to do?

  • What local or national charities do you or have you supported? This could be an opportunity to give more time when you may be able to give less money.

  • Would you consider becoming a charity trustee? Charities often need to recruit trustees with knowledge of their area of activity or with professional, business or governance skills.

  • Does your local church need help?

  • Try Googling volunteering in XXX (where XXX is your local area) to find current volunteering opportunities in your locality.

 

Tips as you investigate the possibilities

  1. Consider what type of tasks and activities you are willing to undertake, based on your experience or on training that’s being offered.

  2. Be clear about what you are being asked to do. Ask if there is a role description that sets out the tasks and expectations.

  3. Be clear about how much time you can offer and how frequently you can be available.

  4. Find out who will be your volunteer manager/link person: ie a person to go to with questions, feedback or issues.

  5. Ask if any induction to the charity (or other organisation) and the volunteer role is provided. How will you learn what to do? Do you know enough about the charity if people ask you about it when you are on duty?

  6. Check whether the organisation covers any volunteer expenses such as travel or offering a sandwich lunch when on duty.

  7. Some charities will give you a volunteer compact. This sets out the expectations and clarifies that you are a volunteer and do not have the rights of an employee.

  8. If you will be spending time with children or vulnerable adults you will need to be DBS checked. You should also ensure that the charity provides safeguarding training and gives you a copy of their safeguarding policy. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/disclosure-and-barring-service

  9. If you are considering becoming a trustee ensure that you do due diligence about the role and the charity. A copy of the annual report, governing document, strategic plan and the organisation structure would be helpful. Be clear about the frequency and length of meetings, the term of the appointment, the induction and training for trustees and the expectations for involvement beyond trustee meetings. Its worth asking if you can attend a trustee meeting as an observer before agreeing to be a trustee. The Charity Commission publication “The Essential Trustee” is the go-to document for trustee advice. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-essential-trustee-new-guidance-on-trustees-responsibilities

 

Signposts

 

Author and copyright Helen Calder 2019 for Helen’s Headlines at www.helensheadlines.net