Churches vary enormously in resources - human and otherwise - but they all rely on volunteers. In many churches the word volunteer is not specifically used and people see what they are doing simply as Christian service. The resources below offer a range of suggestions and templates to help make working with volunteers as effective as possible, without trying to pretend that one size fits all. If you only use one little bit of this resource, that's just fine. And if what you need isn't here, please ask.
The guidance is divided into 7 broad sections, each with a guidance sheet, supported by adaptable samples or templates. Click the titles to expand each section.
Clarity about what a volunteer is being asked to do helps everyone involved. Here you can access:
For those who don’t have a ready supply of volunteers, encouraging suitable people to volunteer is sometimes a challenge. Whether you can find volunteers easily or not, having some sort of process for starting people in new roles helps to make things work smoothly. Here you can access:
When people are not paid or under contract success depends entirely on relationships. Here you can access:
Thanking and appreciating volunteers is an important way of buildling relationships. Sometimes this will be just a word, sometimes a thank you card for something particular, sometimes it could be a thank you celebration for a group of volunteers and some volunteers might appreciate a certificate thanking them for the number of hours that they have done in any given time. This can be particularly important for young volunteers, building a CV and wanting to provide evidence of what they have been doing. The type of certificate will depend on the volunteer but Microsoft Word and Publisher both have templates that can be adapted.
Many people develop significantly through volunteering. Here you can access:
Where human beings are involved, misunderstandings or challenges will inevitably arise. Recognising this and dealing with difficulties well can help to build a strong team. Here you can access:
It can help everyone know how to operate, and know that systems are fair, if principles are agreed. Here you can access
There are some formalities associated with working with volunteers, some of which (e.g. Safeguarding and Health and Safety) are legal requirements. Getting formalities in place that fit your context can be enormously helpful. Here you can access
We would like to keep improving these resources: please click here for a short survey with 5 questions. If you have any other comments or suggestions please contact Julia Hill, Volunteer Development Coordinator of Church Urban Fund.
We are grateful to Kristen Stephenson of NCVO for her advice during the production of this guidance and to Lindsay Cross of West End Refugee Service in Newcastle for her invaluable comments. We are also grateful to Andy Farrell (Chartered Safety Practitioner) for guidance on Risk Assessment. Many of the templates have been developed whilst working with people across the Together Network and so we are also grateful for the many ideas and comments that have helped to shape them.
This work has been carried out as a partnership between Church Urban Fund and the Church of England Lay Development Adviser, with support from The Jerusalem Trust. It aims to increase the capacity of churches to tackle poverty and to support the growth of discipleship.
We refer to people as volunteers simply because they are not being paid for what they do. In practice, they may never refer to themselves as volunteers and may prefer you not to either. You will, of course, choose language that fits your context.
Similarly, in some examples we have used vocabulary common in the Anglican Church since that is our context.
These documents and all accompanying material are intended for guidance purposes only. They are not a full statement of the law and are not a substitute for professional advice. No liability or responsibility is accepted by Church Urban Fund or its partners.
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