It is important to have written role descriptions for your volunteers:

  • It helps volunteers who are considering applying know what they’re being asked to do, and decide if it’s right for them
  • It gives the volunteer more information on the role, which there might not be time to cover when they first get in touch
  • It’s a great way of thinking through whether you’ve covered everything that a volunteer might want to know, and that you need to have in place
  • Once the volunteer has started, they will know what they need to do
  • It will also help you support them as you can refer to the role description when catching up about how they’re getting on
  • A role description helps other people in your organisation understand how the volunteer role fits with their own
  • It enables you to think about how long you might expect someone to do these tasks and be flexible in how you fill these roles. Structuring tasks so that volunteers can work closely as part of a team, and for shorter amounts of time, might make all the difference.

Writing a role description

Having clear role descriptions will help keep your volunteers focused and motivated. Clear role descriptions are also key to volunteer recruitment, so it’s important you get the basics right. Make sure you include the following:

  • Role title
  • What you want volunteers to achieve, their responsibilities, and how these fit in with the work of your organisation
  • Hours and location
  • Skills and abilities needed
  • Benefits to the volunteer
  • A bit about your organisation
  • What support/training will be offered
  • Any restrictions? Can under 18s carry out the role? If not, specify this so you can manage volunteers’ expectations.

You’re more likely to attract volunteers if the roles you create are built on what might motivate, challenge and reward your volunteers. In some cases, you may want to amend or even create a new role description for a volunteer depending on their skills set.


Think about the language you use. Role descriptions should:

  • Be meaningful and motivating, rather than controlling
  • Focus on the results volunteers are expected to achieve
  • Suggest, rather than specify, things that volunteers could do to achieve those results

Once you’ve written your role description ask colleagues and other volunteers to read it and give you their feedback. This will help make sure it’s easy to understand and that they feel the role is realistic and meaningful.

Find out more

If you’d like a chat about involving volunteers in your organisation, or more information about the support available, get in touch. Contact Amy Collins by emailing or call 01202 466130.

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