It is a management tool that simplifies, formalizes and structures the entire volunteering process, from recruitment to the end of the cycle.
The management of volunteering and its definition in the form of a plan became necessary when the professionalization of the third sector took place. At that time, the need arose to draw up a document that included the structure, role, itinerary and tasks of the volunteers so that they were directly and clearly related to the organization's objectives.
It is a tool that makes it possible to formalize and simplify the processes of incorporation, monitoring and completion of voluntary work. It reveals the organization's internal policy and allows it to be more successful in actions such as the recruitment, retention and satisfaction of volunteers, as it structures and organizes them.
However, the plan should not be an isolated document. It is advisable to do a general reflection of the entity as a whole, and that is where this project would be framed. The objective is to make a strategic bet for the organization, and the decision to have volunteering must come from the transversal renewal of the organization's operation.
Below are the sections that volunteer plans must include. The information for this resource has been taken from the document 'Keys for the preparation of a volunteer plan', from the Pere Tarrés Foundation.
The first section of the Volunteer Plan must present the organization, its mission and characteristics and its operation. This would be a small introduction in order to contextualize volunteering in the organization as a whole.
You can also include the reasons why you choose to look for volunteers and what their goals will be.
Basics of volunteering
Already entering the heart of the Plan, it will be necessary to specify what the organization's task is, of volunteering in particular, and what expectations it must have.
In this area, the organization must indicate which profile of volunteers it is looking for. This means indicating questions such as age, previous experience, motivations or skills needed to participate in the project. In a similar way, it will be necessary to explain what the criteria for volunteering are. This means indicating whether the tasks will be management or direct intervention with the beneficiaries, and in what way the volunteers will need to transmit the values of the entity.
Then the commitments must be specified, both those of volunteering and those of the organization. This means indicating the number of hours per week and the degree of flexibility that the volunteers will have, as well as the rights that the organization must guarantee them, such as accompaniment, monitoring or training.
This is a subsection of the bases of volunteering, and it is a space where the entity must describe all the programs in which the volunteers that the entity will participate, because this team will not be necessary for each and every one of its projects.
It will therefore be necessary to be clear in which activities external people can provide added value. There are three types of tasks: intervention with beneficiaries, internal organization such as fundraising or communication, or activities that integrate both actions. Only programs where the structure is ready to host volunteers and needs them will be suitable.
Once the programs have been listed, it will be necessary to indicate which tasks the volunteer will have to perform in each of them. It is also advisable to indicate the person responsible for volunteering for each program.
This section of the Plan will detail the entire path that the volunteer will take within the organization, from the time they apply for entry to the end of the deal. This is known as the 'volunteering cycle', and consists of six moments.
First there is the uptake. Here, the plan will have to point out the places where volunteers usually come from and the actions they carry out to capture them. A distinction must be made between ordinary actions such as keeping the information on the website up to date, and extraordinary actions such as one-off campaigns; as well as pointing out the people responsible for these tasks and their periodicity.
The second moment to take into account is that of reception and orientation. Usually, the relationship starts with an interview prior to the acceptance of the request to enter to do volunteer work. The Plan will need to explain issues such as whether the interview will be individual or collective, who will be in charge of conducting it and what content it will cover. It would be advisable to do it in two parts: one in which the organization offers information to the candidate about its programs and conditions, and one in which it is the potential volunteer who presents his/her motivations and others.
It is advisable to collect a script with the general questions that will be asked, as well as how it is decided which program the person joins. In the same way, it will be necessary to explain how it will be argued if the profile does not suit the task.
Once the person has been informed that they have been accepted for volunteering, there is a series of steps to follow that must also be set out in the Plan: signing the commitment agreement, managing the insurance, registering in the database with the volunteer census and delivery of the volunteer manual, if applicable. To complete this moment, it will be necessary to indicate whether there is provision for an initial training.
The following subsection details the moment of incorporation of the new volunteer. One of the things that he must indicate is whether an accompaniment will be necessary for the first few days, which will depend on the complexity of the task to be carried out. It may also be advisable to include a trial period. In any case, it is a matter of anticipating how the entry of the new additions will be and making this moment as easy and effective as possible.
But the incorporation of the person is not the end of the attention to the new volunteer. The Plan must include monitoring of these individuals, anticipating aspects to take care of their motivation and actions to detect possible problems that may arise, such as regular meetings and the evaluation of the action.
In this framework it also makes sense to include specialized training, as an activity resulting from the detection of training needs. It will be necessary to consider whether to offer it within the entity or in specific courses.
One part that can be part of the monitoring that must be incorporated into the Plan is the recognition of the voluntary action. This is an action that helps keep people motivated, because it conveys that they are part of a bigger project. It will be necessary to explain which recognition actions will take place over the course of a year.
There are formal ones, such as the letter of thanks, the certification of the action or collective celebrations; and there are informal ones, such as a meeting with the board and other members of the entity. In both cases it is highly recommended to schedule them or indicate their periodicity, in order to ensure that they get done.
The last phase of the volunteering cycle is disengagement, and this must also be covered by the Plan. It basically involves firing voluntary people and you will have to decide how to do that. The goal is to maintain a good relationship with people, to get them to associate or to know the aspects that have not worked well. It will be necessary to identify the situations that can lead to the exit, such as age, the end of the intervention or fatigue.
Depending on each case, the farewell action will be different, but it may be appropriate to conduct an interview that can be used to obtain information or convey the continuation of the relationship. The plan must indicate who will conduct the interview and how it will be conducted.
The last section must explain how volunteer management will be evaluated annually, while establishing indicators to see if the Plan has been fulfilled. Some of these indicators can be: percentage of annual volunteer requests by entry, number of annual volunteers, volunteer turnover or loyalty rate, number of annual volunteer hours, satisfaction of volunteers, number of follow-up meetings, number of training actions...
The idea is to have tools to draw conclusions from the results obtained, hence it is important to establish the expected value of the indicator to then compare it with the actual value obtained, to see if the objectives have been achieved.
Another evaluation tool is the annual report or report on volunteering. The Plan must establish if one will be made, which sections it will have and who will be responsible for it.
Apart from the general sections that every Volunteer Plan must have, it is advisable to incorporate some annexes such as management or evaluation documents, so that everything related to volunteering can be saved in one place and always have it at hand.
Some documents that can be included here are the volunteer application form, the volunteer file, the welcome protocol, the volunteer guide, the Volunteer Agreement Model, the Volunteer Rights and Duties Charter, the Training Plan, the assessment surveys, the thank-you letter model, the volunteer attendance chart, the report...