Volunteer Management Handbook, Chapter 7 – Policy Development for Volunteer Involvement


Policies are developed to guide decisions and actions, articulate guiding principles, and identify expectations. Policies define limits and outline re-sponsibilities within an organization, and can be prepared at almost any level and for almost any structural or operational area. Author Linda Graff discusses policies and procedures in the context of volunteer program man-agement as they apply to all voluntary action organizations and all volunteer roles.

Far too many nonprofits operate with few, if any, volunteer resource management policies in place. This is a risky practice at best if we agree that policies are “critical to effective volunteer involvement, quality program¬ming, excellence in service provision, increased productivity, and greater volunteer satisfaction.”These are all positive outcomes of good policy development.

If sustained superior organizational performance is insufficient to moti¬vate policy development, potential risk and legal consequences inherent to inadequate policy should compel immediate and sustained attention to this highly important element of volunteer program infrastructure. Further, na¬tional trends will surely continue, if not accelerate, in the direction of in¬creased accountability and transparency by voluntary organizations. These trends, combined with ever-higher standards of due diligence, demand greater attention by nonprofits to policies and procedures that guide the ef¬fective, efficient, and accountable management of all their programs, includ¬ing volunteer resource management.

The author defines policies and why they are needed and offers a useful explanation of the policy development process, with particular attention on how to write policies for volunteer programs. Several sections offer concrete strategies to ensure good policies are also understood and followed, and the author concludes with helpful observations on successful introduction of well-written policy. Throughout, the practicality of this chapter is enhanced with the inclusion of dozens of sample policies that illuminate both the art and the science of effective policy writing. Clearly, policies and procedures are crucial risk management tools, but they also enhance the effectiveness of volunteer involvement and the management of volunteer programs by com-municating values and beliefs, articulating rules, identifying standards and expectations, and establishing boundaries, all of which support the work of individual volunteers while enhancing productivity, safety, and volunteer satisfaction.


Linda GraffLinda Graff
Linda Graff has been in the business of nonprofit management since 1980. She served as the Executive Director of the Volunteer Center in Hamilton, Canada, for nearly 10 years, and established her highly successful consulting company, Linda Graff and Associates, Inc. in 1989. She has delivered workshops and keynote addresses over more than thirty years to tens of thousands of participants throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.

This in-demand trainer is celebrated for her humorous, no-nonsense style that continuously pushes the conceptualization of volunteerism from merely a labor force to a vital component of human generosity and connectedness.

Ms Graff has always focussed on emerging trends and advanced topics in volunteerism and volunteer program management. She is a world renowned specialist in the areas of policy development, risk management, screening, and futures forecasting, internationally acknowledged and awarded for her innovative thinking and large-picture vision. She has produced more than a dozen books and audio and video resources, and countless manuals and articles in the field of volunteer program management, including international best sellers on policy development (By Definition, 1997), screening employees and volunteers for positions of trust (Beyond Police Checks, 1999), risk management (Better Safe …, 2003) and her widely acclaimed compilation of best practices in volunteer program management (Best of All …, 2005).

Ms Graff earned her degrees from McMaster University. She now concentrates on risk management consulting, helping nonprofit organizations and public systems identify and control risks and liabilities in volunteer involvement and service delivery.