This is part of a special series, brought to you by the Standards for Excellence Institute, to provide nonprofit leaders with a brief nonprofit governance and management tip weekly over the course of 2020. We hope these short tips will be helpful to you and the nonprofits you serve. If you have suggestions for future topics, please forward these to acmadsen@standardsforexcellence.org.


So many of us volunteer for nonprofits. My best volunteer experiences leave me with feelings of hope and accomplishment that the mission of the organization was being well served.  It is easy to feel pride and respect for a nonprofit organization that you volunteer with when you know you were part of a stellar effort and you can see real, tangible results.

These days, I feel grateful for the chance to volunteer as a religious education teacher once per week with a terrific group of five and six-year old children.  I feel supported in my efforts by receiving curricula and tools to carry out my work and I am thankful to be able to learn from the other teachers during school wide, bi-monthly teacher meetings. I am lucky to work with a kind, capable director who ensures all of the volunteer teachers possess everything they need for success.

Volunteers are an essential part of just about any nonprofit organization. As such, it is crucial that volunteers are treated with respect and that they are managed effectively – after all, they are giving you their time. The investment an organization makes to carefully recruit, train, and supervise volunteers means that volunteers are not free, making effective management all the more crucial. Organizations should spend the time and effort in having written, board-approved policies and procedures to govern the work, actions, and safety of both employees and volunteers regardless of how frequently or in what capacity volunteers are used. These policies should guide, direct, and clarify your organization’s relationship with its volunteers.

The Standards for Excellence educational packet on Volunteer Policies outlines what should be incorporated into excellent volunteer policy.  A few of the topics that may be found in a volunteer policy include: volunteer standard of conduct, absenteeism, grievance procedure, media conduct, alcohol/drugs, harassment, dress code, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, partisanship, proselytizing, change of placement, reporting misconduct, safety/liability, and discontinuation of volunteer service. It also comes with customizable companion documents such as Model Volunteer Program Policies and Procedures, a sample volunteer job description and a sample volunteer and intern agreement.


More information is available in the Standards for Excellence educational packet on volunteer policies, which contains samples and models of how to write volunteer policies.  Members of Maryland Nonprofits have access to this and all 27 Standards for Excellence Educational Resource Packets through the member portal.

This is part of a special series, brought to you by the Standards for Excellence Institute, to provide nonprofit leaders with a brief nonprofit governance and management tip weekly over the course of 2020. We hope these short tips will be helpful to you and the nonprofits you serve. If you have suggestions for future topics, please forward these to Amy Coates Madsen.

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