Although volunteering is unpaid, it should not cost a volunteer anything either.
Not paying expenses can be a barrier to volunteers on low incomes or with little spare cash. It could also put off volunteers who feel they should not have to contribute money as well as time.
Funders and donors often also like to see that you will pay volunteer expenses.
You should reimburse any reasonable expenses incurred while volunteering.
This includes, but is not limited to:
For expenses such as meals and refreshments, it may be useful to set a limit. Check what other organisations in your area do and consider what local costs are in your area.
If a volunteer is disabled and has someone who supports them while they volunteer, you should pay expenses for that person too.
Payment of volunteer expenses that is more than out-of-pocket expenses will be treated as taxable income.
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You should follow your organisation’s process for paying expenses. But make sure this works for your volunteers.
For example, some volunteers (such as people seeking asylum) might not have a bank account. If your process is to pay expenses by transfer, discuss with your organisation to see if you can adjust this.
Think about how to make your process as easy as possible for your volunteers. For example, give all volunteers copies of your expenses form at their induction so they don’t have to ask for it.
You should make it clear how soon you will pay expenses, so volunteers don’t have to worry.
A volunteer expenses policy makes sure volunteers know your rules for expenses. This helps them avoid unnecessary costs.
You should share this policy with new volunteers when they join your organisation. It can form part of their induction or volunteer handbook if you have one.
Last reviewed: 12 April 2021Help us improve this content
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