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What Is a Volunteer Agreement?
At times when an organization asks for help, anyone can say, “I volunteer!” But how committed is a person to the volunteer program? Is he or she aware of every responsibility to fulfill? And what about the policies involved? In answering such questions, the volunteer agreement exists. This agreement clears out the expectations of all parties to provide a positive working relationship. Organizations have their rules already, which volunteers need to be introduced with. And those will be recognized in the binding contract or document. From the attendance, policies, down to the work procedures—you name it, the full volunteer information is outlined here.
Moreover, CNCS confirmed that the estimated economic value of volunteers in the US reached up to $167 billion in 2017.
According to Statista, there were 1.56 million American nonprofit groups registered with the IRS in 2015.
Volunteer Agreements: Why Are They Important?
Aside from the definition, what makes volunteer agreements important? First, it is essential to clarify that the organization needs volunteers rather than workers. Such services are not for employee recruitment, especially when nonprofits have limited funds. And with the volunteering details listed and specified in the agreement form, lesser questions are asked. Of course, volunteers have plenty of questions regarding what to do and how to handle the tasks. Even when oral discussions about responsibilities took place, at least written records are present for your review anytime.
Furthermore, the volunteer agreement spells out each rule or policy to observe while volunteering. Maybe a youth volunteer attended in the first few days but suddenly stopped without prior notice. In fixing that problem, the professional way is to add a rule of informing the leaders about changing one’s mind. Thus, the right people are well-informed about someone’s absence. Also, handling liabilities is a crucial aspect. If one volunteer commits damage or dispute, then the whole organization could be blamed. Expect the agreement sheet to expound on that matter too.
The Elements of a Volunteer Agreement
While the volunteer agreement’s importance is clear, what about its content? In 2015, there are around 1.56 million nonprofit groups in the US that are IRS-registered. With that large number, imagine how many different tasks, policies, and the like are present. And with every agreement from those organizations, there are common elements to find as well. What are these? Here are the elements of a standard volunteer agreement:
Essential Qualities of a Volunteer
A volunteer agreement contains the details of what to expect from volunteers. But aside from expecting them to finish particular tasks, organizations also expect qualities from them. People with such qualities would qualify for volunteer engagement, which is crucial to the service. You can compare someone who is engaged in work from someone who is not giving that much effort anyway. And the essential qualities of a volunteer consist of:
How passionate or enthusiastic is the volunteer in the program? Passionate volunteers showcase volunteer engagement. See if a person is driven enough to support or contribute to the cause actively. You often see it from anyone whose choice for nonprofit means a lot to them.
Being part of an organization also comes with a membership. Is the volunteer humble enough to be a good member? The problem with others is how they want to lead but do not wish to act members. In another context, some are volunteering for the sake of having a title. Maybe they do not care that much about the cause; they simply want to be acknowledged as volunteers and boast their achievements after.
Volunteers must be willing to learn. For example, volunteers might be asked to visit another country. The experience would have them learn about new cultures. Instead of disrespecting other cultures, learn to adapt. On another note, be open-minded with what leaders or organizers teach. At least volunteering brings opportunities to learn, which can help one’s knowledge.
A challenging quality is to observe resilience. Remember that some conditions are quite difficult along the way. Maybe the troop plans to plant trees in an area with an extremely high climate. Or perhaps, there is a long walk involved before reaching the destination. Thus, expect the worst possibilities and prepare for what you might not be used to before.
How to Make a Volunteer Agreement
According to the CNCS research survey, Americans volunteered around 6.9 billion hours in 2017. And it led to a $167 billion estimated economic value. That alone shows how involved people in the US are towards volunteering. But volunteering might not run as planned without an effective agreement. And now is the time to be ready in learning how to make a volunteer agreement:
Step 1: Begin with an Introductory Statement
If you prepare a document, how will people know it is specifically a volunteer agreement? Easy, you label the form with a “Volunteer Agreement.” And aside from that, expound the label by writing an introductory statement. This statement introduces what the charity, fundraiser, or name of the organization is. The same goes for the mission or vision statement of that group. Next, identify the parties. Specify the name of the organizers, and most importantly, the volunteers’ details. Name, contact number, address—you name it.
Step 2: Set a Clear Job Description
After you introduce what the agreement is, proceed to give a clear message. Clarifying information is the agreement’s goal anyway. And observing clarity in the job description is a good start. For example, a volunteer’s to-do list might include transporting foods. Do not merely say, “Transport food.” That is broad. Make it clear instead like, “To transport canned goods and bottled water to the assigned houses.” Don’t you think the second example is clearer?
Step 3: Be Practical with the Workload
As much as organizations want volunteers to help, it is wrong to have them overwork. Review if everything listed in the roles section is feasible or not. Maybe a volunteer is given a hundred tasks in a single day. Besides being exhausting, the responsibilities stated are already abusing the volunteers. Remember that humans have limits as well. And since volunteers are not paid, overworking is highly discouraged. But if a volunteer is more than willing to help further, then let him or her do so as it is a volunteer’s call.
Step 4: Insert the Volunteer Agreement Elements
By the way, did you already pick and download the preferred template for your volunteer agreement? Do not forget to explore and adjust its format. Also, write down the elements of a volunteer agreement that were discussed above. Maybe you forgot the policies and schedule. The applicable laws and regulations are fundamental to incorporate in the form. And volunteers must adhere to those, or they might commit any breach of contract. Hence, it ends their service. Lastly, ask for a commitment along with the signature. Once signed, the stipulations are validated.
Should volunteer agreements be signed?
Having a volunteer agreement signed is encouraged but not entirely required. Nevertheless, it is safer to include signatures of both parties to acknowledge a mutual agreement.
How many hours must volunteers work?
How many hours spent depends on the agreed schedule between organizers and volunteers. And in most cases, 50 to 200 hours is acceptable. If a volunteer goes beyond the required hours, they may need to reconsider if there is still room for free time.
What benefits does a volunteer get?
Indeed, volunteers are unpaid. Yet, it doesn’t mean there are no benefits involved. Remember that volunteering implements positive effects. Boosting your confidence or happiness and minimizing depression or stress can happen. And most importantly, volunteering reminds you that you have a purpose in life.
Elizabeth Andrew once said, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” Volunteering is up to one’s call. But remember that there are qualifications and responsibilities to comply that are stipulated under a volunteer agreement too. Follow those stipulations.