Designing Position Descriptions for Volunteers

Armies of enthusiastic volunteers are the lifeblood of community and non-profit organisations. Most of these organisations would simply cease to exist without their volunteers? regular committed services.

The supreme motivator for volunteers is job satisfaction. It is important volunteers know that they fulfil a real and vital purpose in your organisation. To ensure that your volunteer workforce remains motivated and continues achieving, your organisation needs to have the following in place:

  1. A clearly identified set of essential and varied tasks for volunteers.
  2. Well-defined job descriptions for these tasks.
  3. A system to match volunteers? needs and skills with each task.
  4. A process of review and reward for volunteers.
This Help Sheet aims to assist organisations to develop appropriate job descriptions for their volunteer workforce.

How can volunteers benefit my organisation?

There are two ways in which volunteers may be used in your organisation:

  1. To relieve paid staff of time-consuming support tasks.

    Conducting a Support Task Audit

    The results of a support task audit will highlight the type and amount of work that needs to be done to enable paid staff to concentrate on other core activities. It is preferable that paid staff members play an active role in the volunteer employment process. This will ensure that all volunteer work complements rather than duplicates the work of paid staff.

    First, develop a simple form to identify some specific ways in which volunteers might assist paid staff. Depending on the size of your organisation, this form may be completed by individual members of staff or by their team leaders. The proforma you design will include categories specific to the needs of your organisation, and may include the following:


    Type of task

    Duration (No. of hours/week)





    Could this work be undertaken outside the office environment?











    Database Maintenance


    Photo Library Maintenance


    Library and Stationery Acquisition


    Basic Equipment ad Grounds Maintenance






    Basic Fundraising


    Food Distribution




  2. To develop and extend your organisation?s vision and goals.

    Increasingly, people are prepared to lend their professional expertise to community and non-profit organisations for which they have a passion. Skilled volunteers may be sought in many areas including:
    • Law
    • Accounting
    • Mentoring
    • Event Management
    • Marketing
    • Construction
    • Industry
    • Counselling
    • Research
    • Training
    • Fundraising

Is my organisation equipped to accommodate volunteers?

In order to take on volunteers your organisation should have the following in place:

  1. A Volunteer Coordinator

    Volunteers, like paid staff, require ongoing support and direction. A key factor in maintaining volunteer job satisfaction is the appointment of a volunteer coordinator for your organisation.

    Duties may include:
    • Selection and placement of volunteers.
    • Development of volunteer induction materials including a mission statement and organisation chart.
    • Ongoing position direction.
    • To understand the professional and personal needs of each volunteer.
    • Evaluation and feedback.
    • Inclusion of volunteers in the social activities of the organisation.
    • Provision of necessary training materials and courses.
    • Recognition and reward for volunteer effort.
    • Provision of adequate workspace.
    • Provision of training for paid staff necessary to work effectively with volunteers.

  2. Flexible working conditions

    Unlike paid staff, volunteers usually have a preference for part-time and/or flexible working schedules. This may include weekend or after-hours work. An organisation with greater flexibility will attract a larger number of potential applicants.

  3. Security

    Many community and non-profit organisations deal with highly sensitive issues and information. Security checks and confidentiality agreements are commonplace requirements for many volunteer positions.

How do I find the right volunteers for my organisation?

The success of the advertisement will depend on how well you have written the job-description and how it matches your expectations of the position.

Volunteer staff, just like paid staff, need clear, accurate and current descriptions of the work that they are expected to do. All volunteer positions should have there own position descriptions, which need to be reviewed at least annually, or whenever the nature of the work changes substantially.

A good job-description would include the following:

  • A summary of the mission and major activities of the entire organisation.
  • A description of the purpose and duties of the advertised volunteer position including the actual task/s that the volunteer is expected to perform.
  • Areas of accountability.
  • Duration of the position.
  • Expected time commitment each week/month etc.
  • Workplace location.
  • Skills required/preferred.

Do an internet search to identify places to place your ad - GoVolunteer is one you can try, but you can also search for "skilled volunteering" to find some other options.


Have I:
  1. Established a true need for volunteers within my organisation?
  2. Clearly defined the nature of the volunteer task/s?
  3. Appointed a Volunteer Coordinator?
  4. Posted the position on
  5. Provided adequate volunteer induction materials?
  6. Provided adequate workspace?
  7. Completed necessary security and confidentiality checks?
  8. Established a process of direction, review and reward for the volunteer?