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Welcome to the first part of the new NCVO website. While we finish building it, you will find the rest of our help and guidance on our existing site.

Writing a volunteer agreement

What a volunteer agreement is

Volunteer agreements help organisations and volunteers know what to expect from each other. They also remind organisations to offer a good volunteer experience.

Agreements set out:

  • what an organisation will offer its volunteers
  • what it hopes for from them.

They are different to employment contracts, which are for staff.

You don't have to have volunteer agreements to involve volunteers. If you don't, consider how else you'll show volunteers what you expect from them, such as in training.

What to include in a volunteer agreement

In an agreement, organisations often agree to:

  • provide an induction and any training needed for the role
  • give regular support to the volunteer
  • have a named person to support the volunteer
  • treat volunteers in line with an equal opportunities policy
  • pay back volunteer expenses
  • have insurance cover for volunteers
  • follow good health and safety practice.

A volunteer agreement often expects volunteers to:

  • follow relevant policies and procedures, such as health and safety or confidentiality
  • meet agreed expectations for the role, such as the amount of time the role should take.

Expectations not obligations

Volunteer agreements need to avoid sounding like an employment contract. Treating volunteers like employees may make them eligible for full employment rights.

Avoid creating a contract by:

  • not suggesting obligations in the agreement, like volunteering set hours each week
  • describing the relationship based on hopes and expectations
  • not using language that sounds like a contract, such as ‘you must volunteer with us for at least six months’
  • not offering benefits or perks that might look like payment
  • agreeing to pay back expenses, rather than paying out money for expenses upfront.

You can also say in the agreement that it isn't a legal contract with the volunteer.

Last reviewed: 12 April 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 12 April 2021

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