Why is a volunteer handbook desirable?
A volunteer handbook can be an extremely valuable source of information for the volunteer and can help to:
- Explain why their role is so important to the organisation.
- It can also be useful as a back-up to induction or training, particularly where there is a lot of information to take in including background about the organisation and details and guidelines about their volunteering role.
Do you need a handbook?
If a large number of volunteers regularly support your club and if they tend to operate quite independently, a volunteer handbook can be very important in defining roles and limits of responsibility and making volunteers feel part of the bigger picture. If only a small number of volunteers are involved infrequently, then a handbook might not be a priority at this stage. However, even if you feel that your club is small and friendly enough to do without a handbook, its still worth having an induction or welcome pack of some sort, to collect together your policies and procedures for volunteers.
What information should a volunteer handbook contain?
Whilst this will largely depend upon your individual club, it can help to put yourself in the place of a volunteer and consider what information you might need to feel part of that club? Consult current volunteers to find out what information they would have liked to see written down. Some things about your working environment may seem perfectly obvious to you but could be mystifying to someone new to golf volunteering. Suggested information could include:
- Background information - explain what volunteers are doing and how they are helping
- What does your organisation do and why? - clarify for newcomers how your organisation is structured
- Location - where are volunteers most likely to be needed? e.g. home based or ‘in the field’
- Communication – what methods are available for volunteers to stay in touch? e.g. email or printed, newsletters; volunteers page on website; web forums; meetings etc
- Training – detail the training requirements for the role(s), how long each will take and opportunities for professional and personal development
- Expenses – if your policy is to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses, the handbook can list those that you consider reasonable and explain exactly how to claim.
- Practical health and safety information – you may therefore wish to include some basic safety advice for those unfamiliar with golf.
- Contact information –
- Other Policies and Procedures - some clubs choose to collect together policies and procedures relevant to volunteers in their handbook. It can be a sensible thing to do, but they are probably best included in an appendix. Having them in the main text is likely to make the handbook a bit heavy going.
As with all volunteer documents, it’s important to ensure that it is both accessible and readable. Use clear, informal language and ensure that it’s concise and interesting. Remember that some readers may have sight problems, dyslexia or learning difficulties.
Keeping your volunteer handbook current
As with all key documents, your volunteer handbook should be evaluated (by volunteers) and revised on a regular basis (minimum annually). Key documents should also be easy to access and your volunteer handbook should be available on your web site (Member Section if appropriate), in addition to being provided in hard copy to your volunteers.
How to implement your handbook
Every volunteer should receive a copy of the handbook; it may be worth while having a volunteer evening where all the volunteers and club officials could go through the contents and ask questions to ensure understanding and gain the buy in of all involved.
Key contents a handbook could include
- A message from the chairperson welcoming and explaining why the volunteer is so important to the club and wishing them an enjoyable volunteering experience
- The book will be given to all new volunteers and they be expected to understand the contents and any support they require will be discussed with the clubs volunteer co-ordinator
- It should also outline the clubs definition of a volunteer
- should give some background history to the club and explain how the club works and why volunteers are key to making the club a success.
- The handbook should explain what the club will expect from the volunteer and the volunteer can expect from the club
- A simple Volunteer Agreement in writing but not to be signed
- The length and time of any trial period
- Agreeing your time commitment
- The book should outline the benefits of volunteering such as social and personal development
- Provide a list of volunteer roles and skills and aptitudes to carry out each role
- The club should outline any inductions that the volunteer may need to undertake any roles
- How the club will communicate with all volunteers
Please click on the following links for sample documents
Club Volunteer Handbook ( Aquirius Golf Club South London)
Sample Club Volunteer Policy