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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.

Supporting volunteers

After you've recruited your volunteers, they will need support. You should decide what level of support and supervision you need based on possible risks.

You can offer regular meetings with volunteers to see how things are going and get to know them.

You could talk about:

  • what they are enjoying about their role
  • successes they have had
  • difficulties they've had
  • support or training they might need going forward.

It can be hard to find time to talk to each volunteer, especially if you are responsible for many. But it's essential to give volunteers the opportunity to give and receive feedback.

Make it clear who volunteers should contact if they have a problem, and when this help is available. If volunteers are active in the evenings or weekends, you may need to offer support at those times.

Supervising volunteers

Some volunteer roles will be easier to oversee than others. If volunteers are at home or in the community, you won't be able to check what they are doing all the time. Nor would that feel like a positive experience.

Give people the resources and guidance they need so that they can be as independent as possible. A reporting or logging system helps you see what volunteers have done. Debriefs at the end of shifts let volunteers talk through their tasks and any concerns they had.

Make sure it's clear to everyone who has responsibility for supervising volunteers. This might be a different person from the one who recruited and chose the volunteers.

Roles that are emotionally demanding or more specialist might need further supervision. Some volunteers offer caring or clinical services, such as counselling or psychotherapy. Be clear how they will get supervision to meet professional and ethical standards.

Encouraging feedback

Feedback from volunteers is vital to providing a good experience. You can learn what they enjoy about volunteering and what might be causing them problems. You can also find out how useful the training and support you offer is for their role.

There are different ways of getting feedback from your volunteers. You could:

  • use questionnaires
  • do interviews
  • set up groups of volunteers to come together and discuss things you would like feedback on.

Peer support

Volunteers are often the best support for each other. Make it easy for volunteers to speak to and learn from others. You can do this by setting up group sessions, having a buddy system or by having online spaces they can use.

In some roles, it's useful to have two or more volunteers volunteering together. Try to offer a range of options to suit different lifestyles and commitments.

Last reviewed: 12 April 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 12 April 2021

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