Volunteer Engagement

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Effective volunteer engagement is critical to the success of a nonprofit. The time, talent and treasure provided by volunteers help an organization maximize results in working toward its mission. Nonprofit organizations should exercise fair and equitable volunteer management practices that attract and retain qualified individuals. An effectively-managed volunteer program can build an organization’s efficiency, enhance community engagement, provide specialized expertise and increase the community’s awareness of issues and resources through a knowledgeable pool of ambassadors and donors.

Assessment Items


Legal Essential Recommended
We have established screening procedures to ensure the safety of clients and minimize potential liability to the organization. X
We have a system whereby volunteers are oriented and trained on the specific skills and knowledge needed to perform their roles as well as the boundaries and limits of their work in a volunteer capacity on behalf of the organization. X
We have an ongoing communication plan to let stakeholders know about volunteer opportunities. X
Volunteer recruitment activities are targeted and specific, clearly identifying the work to be done, the hours to be committed, and the intended impacts of the volunteer activity. X
Each volunteer has a direct connection to an identified supervisor and understands with whom to communicate when the supervisor is unavailable. X


Legal Essential Recommended
We have current written, accessible volunteer policies and procedures, including attendance policies, confidentiality policies, grievance procedures, and other key information to minimize risk and maximize effectiveness. X
We have clearly articulated and documented accountability and discipline procedures for volunteers that address lack of performance as well as policy violations. X
We have a volunteer engagement plan that includes: (a) purpose statement to identify benefits of using volunteer talent, (b) assessment of organizational readiness for volunteers, (c) budget to support a volunteer program, and (d) clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and relationships between staff and volunteers. X
We have a written role description for every volunteer position. X
We have a thoughtful recognition system which provides individual and group recognition and celebrates the impact of volunteers. X
Volunteer performance is evaluated annually with the supervisor through a formal process (if appropriate given the role and scope of service). X
The volunteer program as a whole is evaluated annually to assess cost and benefits of the program, to document impact on mission achievement, and to direct future volunteer initiatives. X


Independent Sector: Value of Volunteer Time
Independent Sector: Value of Volunteer Time - By State (2001 - 2018)
GrantSpace: What is the monetary value of volunteer time?
Philanthropy.com Time is Money: How to Measure the Value of Volunteers
Track it Forward: How to Use Volunteer Hours to Get Grants and Amplify Your Impact
Philanthropy News Digest: Value of Volunteer Time Rose 3% in 2018
Nolo: How Nonprofits Can Calculate and Report Volunteer Time in Their Financials

Best Practices


  • Volunteer assignments are made with careful consideration of the volunteer’s skills, needs, and interests.
  • Listen to your volunteers. Ask them how the programs are going, how clients are feeling, what general community members are saying. Ask them how they’re feeling about their work, if they feel valued, if they understand their role in achieving mission. They will be the first to let you know what works, and what doesn’t.


  • Design your volunteer management and support systems to meet the scope of your volunteer involvement. Strategies may be different for one-time, episodic or short-term volunteers than for long-term, ongoing volunteer projects.
  • The depth of volunteer performance evaluations should be appropriate to the role and scope of service the volunteer provides. One-time (or episodic) volunteers should be evaluated in much less detail.
  • Build collaborative relationships with other programs/organizations similar to yours; consider sharing recruitment, training, and recognition activities.
  • When reporting volunteer impact to funders, the community at large and your internal constituents, make sure to factor in the established value of a volunteer hour. https://independentsector.org/value-of-volunteer-time-2018/