Writing Volunteer Agreements

A volunteer agreement is a clear statement of what a volunteer can expect from an organisation, and what the organisation hopes for from the volunteer.

Volunteer agreements are not legally binding, but are designed to make clear what the organisation is offering and what they are looking for in return volunteers. Agreements like these help to prevent misunderstandings.

Agreements can be signed at the end of a trial period, and an up-to-date and reviewed Volunteer Task Description should accompany the agreement. You can find out more about this is our Good Practice Guide: Volunteer Task Descriptions.

Making it Clear

One of the biggest advantages of Volunteer Agreements is that they help to reduce the risk of misunderstandings between a volunteer and an organisation.

For that reason, it is recommended to keep language in a Volunteer Agreement simple and plain.

It might be useful to produce a covering letter for a volunteer agreement that outlines the document’s purpose and content, and to demonstrate the organisation’s intent in a less formal manner. These concepts can also be explained during a volunteer’s induction.

Volunteer Agreements should be reviewed regularly, as part of a supervision procedure for volunteers. More about this can be found in our good practice guide: Supporting Volunteers.

What should a Volunteer Agreement contain?

A Volunteer Agreement should state what the organisation is offering to the volunteer, for example, adequate information, training and assistance to complete the tasks and activities a volunteer has agreed to do; support during their time volunteering with the organisation; and how the organisation handles expenses etc. 

It must be made clear that offering training in a volunteer role is not dependant upon how many hours of volunteering is completed. For more information please refer to our guide on volunteering and the law.

The Agreement should describe how the volunteer will be contributing towards the goals and mission of your organisation, in reference to the Volunteer Task Description.

It is good practice for there to be a trial period, and for the volunteering time to be limited and reviewed regularly—every 6 months to a year. This gives both the organisation and the volunteer the opportunity to end the agreement, or discuss changes in time. A review date should also be stated in the volunteer agreement.

The agreement should have the volunteering role’s title clearly stated near the beginning, and should describe the policies, procedures, and commitments that the volunteer is expected to adhere to.

What is reasonable to expect in a Volunteer Agreement?

Typically, in an agreement you would expect to find:

From the organisation:

  • Volunteer Role title
  • To provide a full induction and training necessary for the role, regardless of the time committed
  • To provide regular support to the volunteer in their role, and to provide the name of a contact for the volunteer who will support them
  • To treat volunteers in line with equal opportunities policy
  • To reimburse out of pocket expenses
  • To provide insurance cover for the volunteers
  • To implement good health and safety practice.

From the volunteer:

  • To follow the policies, procedures, and code of conduct of the organisation, for example: health and safety policy, confidentiality policy, ethics policies etc
  • To meet mutually agreed expectations around the role, such as the amount of time the role is expected to take.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”

– Herman Melville

Further Support Available

Stockton Volunteers is dedicated to supporting volunteer involved organisations in Stockton-on-Tees. Further support is available through our website where you can:

  • Download more Good Practice Guides
  • Find out more about the Stockton Volunteers Good Practice Kite Mark
  • Place volunteer advertisements
  • Get information about our latest Stockton Volunteers Partnership Meeting
  • Contact us for advice and support on your volunteering programmes
  • Get advice on policies and procedures for volunteering.

The Stockton Volunteers Good Practice Kite Mark is awarded to organisations who demonstrate commitment to supporting and nurturing their volunteers.

Recognised across County Durham and Stockton-on-Tees, the Stockton Volunteers Good Practice Kite Mark follows the ethos of Volunteer England and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).