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Working With Volunteers

Churches vary enormously but they all rely on volunteers, even if many people never use that word and simply see it as Christian service. This flexible set of resources has been produced as a partnership between Church Urban Fund and the Church of England's lay development work.

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Exploring The Resources

The resources are divided into seven broad categories, each containing a guidance sheet and adaptable samples or templates. There is also a section with additional information.

If you have any difficulties, questions or suggestions, please get in touch.

You can also download these resources as PDFs or in a Zip File.

If you would like to know when there are updates, please register here.

Clarifying Tasks

How to help people know what they are doing, and why

Clarity about what a volunteer is being asked to do helps everyone involved. Here you can access:

Taking On Volunteers

Ideas about finding and taking on volunteers - to help things run smoothly

For those who don’t have a ready supply of volunteers, encouraging suitable people to volunteer is sometimes a challenge. Whether you can find volunteers easily or not, having some sort of process for starting people in new roles helps to make things work smoothly. Here you can access:

Building Good Relationships

Ideas to help you have good relationships with and between volunteers

Here you can access:

Thanking and appreciating volunteers is an important way of building relationships. Sometimes this will be just a word, sometimes a thank you card for something particular, sometimes it could be a thank you celebration for a group of volunteers and some volunteers might appreciate a certificate thanking them for the number of hours that they have done in any given time. This can be particularly important for young volunteers, building a CV and wanting to provide evidence of what they have been doing. The type of certificate will depend on the volunteer but Microsoft Word and Publisher both have templates that can be adapted.

Encouraging Development

Ideas to help you ensure that volunteers have the chance to develop in their roles

Many people develop significantly through volunteering. Here you can access:

Tackling Difficulties

Guidance and ideas for dealing with the difficulties that tend to arise when working with people

Where human beings are involved, misunderstandings or challenges will inevitably arise. Recognising this and dealing with difficulties well can help to build a strong team. Here you can access:

Agreeing Principles

Suggestions for how you might work out the principles that guide the way you involve people

It can help everyone know how to operate, and know that systems are fair, if principles are agreed. Here you can access

Managing Formalities

Help with the small print like H&S, Safeguarding, Data Protection etc

There are some formalities associated with working with volunteers, some of which (e.g. Safeguarding and Health and Safety) are legal requirements. Getting formalities in place that fit your context can be enormously helpful. Here you can access

Additional documents:

Further Information

Links to some other sources of information

  • Faithfully Volunteering is an excellent, comprehensive guide to working with volunteers in church organisations, produced by Church and Society in the Diocese of Liverpool with support from Church Urban Fund.
  • NCVO has a great deal of useful information that you can access via Know How Non-Profit (knowhownonprofit.org). You have to register but there is no cost. Once you have signed in, the quickest way to access relevant information is to type your topic into the search bar in the top right. (e.g. Volunteer policy, volunteer expenses, risk assessments).
  • Loving Volunteers by Richard Steel is part of the Grove Leadership Series (grovebooks.co.uk). It is strong on the relationship aspects of volunteering. (Richard Steel has also written a longer book with background reflections on involving volunteers - Building up the Body: Encouraging, equipping and enabling volunteers in the church - BRF 2013)
  • A-Z of Volunteer Management by Bill Crookes and Jackie Rouradian (Mosaic Creative). This is a highly accessible, practical guide from an organisation with experience of managing volunteers in churches and not for profit organisations.
  • Tackling Difficulties: How to Learn Through Conflict by Colin Patterson – Grove Booklet P96 (grovebooks.co.uk).
  • Volunteer Dos and Don’ts from the Stewardship website (stewardship.org.uk).