Articles on Volunteering

Why good leaders make you feel safe

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

There's a man by the name of Captain William Swenson who recently was awarded the congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on September 8, 2009.

On that day, a column of American and Afghan troops were making their way through a part of Afghanistan to help protect a group of government officials, a group of Afghan government officials, who would be meeting with some local village elders. The column came under ambush, and was surrounded on three sides, and amongst many other things, Captain Swenson was recognized for running into live fire to rescue the wounded and pull out the dead. One of the people he rescued was a sergeant, and he and a comrade were making their way to a medevac helicopter.

And what was remarkable about this day is, by sheer coincidence, one of the medevac medics happened to have a GoPro camera on his helmet and captured the whole scene on camera. It shows Captain Swenson and his comrade bringing this wounded soldier who had received a gunshot to the neck. They put him in the helicopter, and then you see Captain Swenson bend over and give him a kiss before he turns around to rescue more.

I saw this, and I thought to myself, where do people like that come from? What is that? That is some deep, deep emotion, when you would want to do that. There's a love there, and I wanted to know why is it that I don't have people that I work with like that? You know, in the military, they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In business, we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that we may gain. We have it backwards. Right? So I asked myself, where do people like this come from? And my initial conclusion was that they're just better people. That's why they're attracted to the military. These better people are attracted to this concept of service. But that's completely wrong. What I learned was that it's the environment, and if you get the environment right, every single one of us has the capacity to do these remarkable things, and more importantly, others have that capacity too. I've had the great honor of getting to meet some of these, who we would call heroes, who have put themselves and put their lives at risk to save others, and I asked them, "Why would you do it? Why did you do it?" And they all say the same thing: "Because they would have done it for me." It's this deep sense of trust and cooperation. So trust and cooperation are really important here. The problem with concepts of trust and cooperation is that they are feelings, they are not instructions. I can't simply say to you, "Trust me," and you will. I can't simply instruct two people to cooperate, and they will.It's not how it works. It's a feeling.

So where does that feeling come from? If you go back 50,000 years to the Paleolithic era, to the early days of Homo sapiens, what we find is that the world was filled with danger, all of these forces working very, very hard to kill us. Nothing personal. Whether it was the weather, lack of resources, maybe a saber-toothed tiger, all of these things working to reduce our lifespan. And so we evolved into social animals, where we lived together and worked together in what I call a circle of safety, inside the tribe,where we felt like we belonged. And when we felt safe amongst our own, the natural reaction was trust and cooperation. There are inherent benefits to this. It means I can fall asleep at night and trust that someone from within my tribe will watch for danger. If we don't trust each other, if I don't trust you, that means you won't watch for danger. Bad system of survival.

The modern day is exactly the same thing. The world is filled with danger, things that are trying to frustrate our lives or reduce our success, reduce our opportunity for success. It could be the ups and downs in the economy, the uncertainty of the stock market. It could be a new technology that renders your business model obsolete overnight. Or it could be your competition that is sometimes trying to kill you. It's sometimes trying to put you out of business, but at the very minimum is working hard to frustrate your growth and steal your business from you. We have no control over these forces. These are a constant, and they're not going away.

The only variable are the conditions inside the organization, and that's where leadership matters, because it's the leader that sets the tone. When a leader makes the choice to put the safety and lives of the people inside the organization first, to sacrifice their comforts and sacrifice the tangible results, so that the people remain and feel safe and feel like they belong, remarkable things happen.

I was flying on a trip, and I was witness to an incident where a passenger attempted to board before their number was called, and I watched the gate agent treat this man like he had broken the law, like a criminal. He was yelled at for attempting to board one group too soon. So I said something. I said, "Why do you have treat us like cattle? Why can't you treat us like human beings?" And this is exactly what she said to me. She said, "Sir, if I don't follow the rules, I could get in trouble or lose my job." All she was telling me is that she doesn't feel safe. All she was telling me is that she doesn't trust her leaders. The reason we like flying Southwest Airlines is not because they necessarily hire better people. It's because they don't fear their leaders.

You see, if the conditions are wrong, we are forced to expend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and that inherently weakens the organization. When we feel safe inside the organization, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities.

The closest analogy I can give to what a great leader is, is like being a parent. If you think about what being a great parent is, what do you want? What makes a great parent? We want to give our child opportunities, education, discipline them when necessary, all so that they can grow up and achieve more than we could for ourselves. Great leaders want exactly the same thing. They want to provide their people opportunity, education, discipline when necessary, build their self-confidence, give them the opportunity to try and fail, all so that they could achieve more than we could ever imagine for ourselves.

Charlie Kim, who's the CEO of a company called Next Jump in New York City, a tech company, he makes the point that if you had hard times in your family, would you ever consider laying off one of your children? We would never do it. Then why do we consider laying off people inside our organization? Charlie implemented a policy of lifetime employment. If you get a job at Next Jump, you cannot get fired for performance issues. In fact, if you have issues, they will coach you and they will give you support, just like we would with one of our children who happens to come home with a C from school. It's the complete opposite.

This is the reason so many people have such a visceral hatred, anger, at some of these banking CEOs with their disproportionate salaries and bonus structures. It's not the numbers. It's that they have violated the very definition of leadership. They have violated this deep-seated social contract. We know that they allowed their people to be sacrificed so they could protect their own interests, or worse, they sacrificed their people to protect their own interests. This is what so offends us, not the numbers. Would anybody be offended if we gave a $150 million bonus to Gandhi? How about a $250 million bonus to Mother Teresa? Do we have an issue with that? None at all. None at all. Great leaders would never sacrifice the people to save the numbers. They would sooner sacrifice the numbers to save the people.

Bob Chapman, who runs a large manufacturing company in the Midwest called Barry-Wehmiller, in 2008 was hit very hard by the recession, and they lost 30 percent of their orders overnight. Now in a large manufacturing company, this is a big deal, and they could no longer afford their labour pool. They needed to save 10 million dollars, so, like so many companies today, the board got together and discussed layoffs. And Bob refused. You see, Bob doesn't believe in head counts. Bob believes in heart counts, and it's much more difficult to simply reduce the heart count. And so they came up with a furlough program.Every employee, from secretary to CEO, was required to take four weeks of unpaid vacation. They could take it any time they wanted, and they did not have to take it consecutively. But it was how Bob announced the program that mattered so much. He said, it's better that we should all suffer a little than any of us should have to suffer a lot, and morale went up. They saved 20 million dollars, and most importantly, as would be expected, when the people feel safe and protected by the leadership in the organization, the natural reaction is to trust and cooperate. And quite spontaneously, nobody expected,people started trading with each other. Those who could afford it more would trade with those who could afford it less. People would take five weeks so that somebody else only had to take three.

Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the senior most levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them. And I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.

I heard a story of some Marines who were out in theater, and as is the Marine custom, the officer ate last,and he let his men eat first, and when they were done, there was no food left for him. And when they went back out in the field, his men brought him some of their food so that he may eat, because that's what happens. We call them leaders because they go first. We call them leaders because they take the risk before anybody else does. We call them leaders because they will choose to sacrifice so that their people may be safe and protected and so their people may gain, and when we do, the natural response is that our people will sacrifice for us. They will give us their blood and sweat and tears to see that their leader's vision comes to life, and when we ask them, "Why would you do that? Why would you give your blood and sweat and tears for that person?" they all say the same thing: "Because they would have done it for me." And isn't that the organization we would all like to work in?

Your Rights & Responsibilities As A Volunteer

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

857729 410336499059540 146624353 oWhilst volunteering can be the habit of a lifetime, the opportunity is there at any age.  For many it has provided the chance to try something completely new. Taking part in your community can lead to a better understanding of your own abilities, some you never even knew you had!

There are probably many more things to interest you than you had imagined possible. Not only in the areas of caring and companionship, practical support, information and advice services, transport, administration and fundraising but animal welfare, heritage and conservation.

Volunteering is the gift of time. Nevertheless it's important not to feel over stretched. The help you give should certainly not prevent you from pursuing any hobbies, or your family and social life. 

As a volunteer you have responsibilities but you also have rights. 


As a volunteer you have the right:

To be treated as a co-worker, not just free help.

To a suitable assignment--with consideration for personal preference, temperament, life experience, education and employment background.

To know as much about the organisation as possible-its policies, people and programs.

To training for the job and continuing education on the job-including training for greater responsibility.

To a role description.

To a place to work - a designated place that is conducive to work and worthy of the job to be done.

To new opportunities and a variety of experiences - through advancement or transfer, or through special assignment.

To be heard - to feel free to make suggestions, to have a part in planning.

To recognition - in the form of promotion and awards, through day to day expressions of appreciation and by being treated as a bona fide co-worker.

To sound guidance and direction.



There are responsibilities of a volunteer that accompany your rights as a volunteer. All of those involved in the relationship must have respect for one another and a desire to cooperate in meeting designated needs.

Your responsibilities include:

If you have criticism about another person, convey it to your supervisor.

Be prompt and reliable in reporting for scheduled work.

Keep accurate records of your hours worked.

Notify your supervisor as early as possible if you are unable to work as scheduled.

Attend orientation and training sessions scheduled.

Be considerate, respect the ability of the staff, and work as a member of the team.

Carry out assignments in good spirit and seek the assistance of your supervisor in any situation requiring special guidance.

Accept the right of the agency to dismiss any volunteer for poor performance, including poor attendance.

Decline work that is not acceptable to you; maintain an open mind with regard to other people's standards and values.

Communicate personal limitations - acceptable out-of-pocket costs, transportation needs, time constraints, etc.

Provide feedback, suggestions, and recommendations to your supervisor and staff if these might increase the effectiveness of the program.

Give written notice if you cannot continue in your volunteer position or if you are requesting a leave of absence from the program.

Have the ability to work with a culturally diverse population of clients.

Respect current agency policies (i.e. Affirmative Action, Sexual Harassment, etc.


Frequently Asked Questions - Charities

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

In Ireland when an organisation has "charitable status" it simply means that it is recognised as charitable by the Revenue Commissioners for tax purposes. There is currently no official "Register of Charities" in Ireland. However, you should note that the Charities Act 2009, when fully implemented, will introduce such a register for the first time. 

In order to recognised as charitable an organisation must have:

Legal status by means of a specific legal structure with its associated ‘governing instrument’ (see next section). This means that it has a written constitution or a Memorandum and Articles of Association or a Trust Deed;

The 'governing instrument'/document must include a clause stating that the organisation will use its money for charitable purposes only;

The aims of the organisation as set out in the constitution must be exclusively charitable and must come under one of the following headings or definitions of charity:

The relief of poverty;

The advancement of education;

The advancement of religion; or

Other purposes beneficial to the community.

When applying to be recognised as a charity for tax purposes the organisation must send in:

A completed application form (download form CHY1 from the Revenue Commissioners website)

Its governing instrument [e.g. a constitution, deed of trust or Memorandum and Articles of Association]

A statement of activities

The latest financial accounts

 The names and addresses of its officers.

Applying to be recognised as a charity by the Revenue Commissioners involves groups applying for exemption from certain taxes and separately to the Valuation Office for exemption from rates on buildings. This can be important to a group for both fundraising purposes and also for exemption from certain taxes. Charitable status does not give legal status to an organisation, nor confer incorporation. A group can have charitable status without being incorporated and vice versa.

How do I register as a charity?

There is no legal framework for the registration of charities in Ireland. The Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Charities Section maintains a database of organisations to which they have granted charitable tax exemption. In granting tax exemption Charities Section give the body a CHY reference number. The full list of bodies granted exemption is published on the Revenue Commissioners website.

How should I set up a charity?

All charitable organisations, if applying for tax exemption require a legal structure and a governing instrument. The form of governing instrument best suited to the function of any charity depends very much on the charitable purposes, the planned activities of the charity and how it is proposed to fund these activities.

Charitable organisations mainly take one of three legal forms:

  • An unincorporated association with a Constitution or Rules;
  • A charitable trust established by Trust Deed;
  • A company governed by a Memorandum and Articles of Association.

It is recommended that intending charities take their own advice on this issue.

How should a governing document define an organisation's purposes?

An organisation must be constituted and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. In addition, it is a basic principle of charity law that an organisation’s objects must be expressed in precise rather than broad or vague terms. This identifies as clearly as possible a recognised charitable purpose.

Exemption to tax will not be granted to organisations that have a mix of charitable and non-charitable purposes or where the objects of the body are considered to be either too vague or too broad.


What are charitable purposes?

While there is no legislation defining what is legally charitable it is generally determined by considering whether a particular purpose comes within one of the four broad categories:

  • Trusts for the Relief of Poverty
  • Trusts for the Advancement of Education
  • Trusts for the Advancement of Religion
  • Trusts for Other Purposes Beneficial to the Community

It is not unusual for a charitable body to come within more than one of the headings. It should be noted that not all purposes of benefit to the community would be considered a charitable purpose. In examining an application for tax exemption the Charities Section will examine the case with regard to the objects, the actual activity of the applicant body and with regard to established charity case law.

How do I apply for charitable tax exemption?

Where a charitable organisation wishes to apply for exemption, it must submit a completed application form, pdfCHY1 - Applying for Relief from Tax on the Income and Property of Charities (PDF, 109KB) to Charities Section, Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. The following documents should be submitted in support of the application: -

  • Copy of the governing instrument - in draft format for a charity being newly formed.
  • Statement of activities to date and plans for next 12 months, including any trading activities being undertaken/proposed.
  • Annual reports and other documentation, if applicable.
  • Latest financial statements/projected income and expenditure.
  • List of names, addresses, occupations and PPS numbers of the Officers/Trustees/Directors.

Does a charity have to apply for a tax exemption from the Revenue Commissioners?

No, it is only necessary for a charity to apply to the Revenue Commissioners for charitable tax exemption if it may incur a liability to tax.

Will Charities Section advise upon draft governing documents?

Yes, provided that a completed CHY1 and supporting documentation are submitted with the draft document. In order that organisations can alleviate costs in time and money, Charities Section is prepared to consider draft governing instruments. In considering whether a body might qualify for exemption to tax, all other documents and information required on the application form must also be provided. If all is in order Charities Section will advise the applicant to finalise the governing documentation in order to proceed with the granting of the claim to tax exemption.

What reliefs from tax are available on the income and property of charities?

The tax code provides exemptions for charities as follows:

  • Income Tax - Sections 207 and 208, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
  • Corporation Tax (in the case of companies) - Sections 76 and 78 Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
  • Capital Gains Tax - Section 609, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
  • Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) - Section 266 Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.
  • Capital Acquisitions Tax - Sections 17, 22 and 76 of the Capital Acquisitions Taxes Consolidation Act 2003.
  • Stamp Duty - Section 82, Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999.
  • Dividend Withholding Tax - Chapter 8A, Part 6, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997.

We are a not for profit organisation; does that mean we are a charity and entitled to charitable tax exemption?

No, the absence of profit motivation does not automatically make a charity entitled to charitable tax exemption. In examining an application for charitable tax exemption the Charities Section will examine the case with regard to the objects, the actual activity of the applicant and case law.

We are an unincorporated body and have been advised to change the legal structure of the organisation to an incorporated body governed by Memorandum and Articles of Association; will this affect charitable tax exemption?

No, if the ethos of the organisation does not change then a body that wishes to change its legal structure should write to Charities Section prior to the change, notifying us of the reason for the proposed change and enclosing a copy of the new draft governing instrument.

Can a foreign charity be granted charitable tax exemption /determination in Ireland?

Non-resident charities based in an EEA / EFTA country can apply for a determination under Sections 208A and 208B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

Eligible non-resident charities will qualify for a determination rather than an exemption on the basis that they will not have a tax liability in Ireland.

A determination will issue following evaluation of the application from the non-resident charity on the basis that, should the body have a liability to tax in Ireland it would be exempt on the grounds that it is established for charitable purposes only.

Where a non-resident charitable organisation wishes to apply for a determination, it must submit a completed application form to Charities Section, Office of the Revenue Commissioners , Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Download the pdfinformation leaflet DCHY 1 and application form (PDF, 219KB) .

Can an Officer/Director/Trustee be paid as an Officer/Director/Trustee?

In general, no payments should be paid to Officers/Directors/Trustees other then out of pocket expenses. Specifically, Officers/Directors/Trustees are not to be paid for holding such an office.

Can an organisation that has charitable tax exemption have paid employees?

Yes, a charity can have paid employees. A charity that has employees should note that charitable tax exemption does not relieve it of its obligations as an employer to operate the P.A.Y.E. system for its employees. Officers/Directors/Trustees of the charity are prohibited from being employed by or in receipt of any remuneration from the charity.

Is an organisation that has been granted charitable tax exemption exempt from VAT?

No. There is no general VAT exemption for charities. However, there are a number of specific reliefs from VAT which may relate to charitable activities and are outlined in information leaflet: pdfCHY10 - Explanatory leaflet on Value-Added Tax in the case of Charities (PDF,48KB) available on our website.

We have charitable tax exemption; do we still need to get a tax clearance certificate?

Bodies granted charitable tax exemption by the Revenue Commissioners are issued with a Charity (CHY) Number. In certain instances it may be sufficient for a body just to quote their CHY number and a tax clearance certificate would not be a requirement.

An applicant with charitable tax exemption who has secured a Public Sector Contract or requires tax clearance in connection with an application for the renewal of an Excise Licence or certain other licences (including authorisation required under the Consumer Credit Act 1995 and the Criminal Justice Legal Aid (Tax Clearance Regulations 1999) should apply on form TC1 pdf Application for Tax Clearance Certificate form (PDF, 258KB) for a general tax clearance certificate.

Does a body with charitable tax exemption have to renew its tax exemption?

No. However, a charity must adhere to the conditions attaching to that exemption and is subject to review by Charities Section.

Can charitable tax exemption be withdrawn?

Yes, tax exemption may be withdrawn (retrospectively if necessary) if the body does not comply with its charitable objects or to the conditions associated with the charitable tax exemption. In such circumstances a charge to tax as determined by the Revenue Commissioners may be raised.

What accounts does a body with charitable tax exemption need to keep?

Annual Accounts must be kept and made available to the Revenue Commissioners on request. In the case of a body with income in excess of €100,000 per annum audited accounts must be submitted.

Our charity is dissolving; what information/documentation do we have to provide to the Revenue Commissioners?

  • The date the organisation ceases to exist officially
  • Final set of accounts of the organisation
  • Confirmation of how any residual funds, at the time of dissolution, were distributed.

What tax reliefs apply in the case of donations to charities?

All the information that you need is contained in our publication CHY 2 available on our website at: pdfCHY2 - Scheme of Tax Relief for Donations of Money or Designated Securities to 'Eligible Charities'and other 'Approved Bodies' Under Section 848a Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (PDF, 283KB)

Contact Details

Office of the Revenue Commissioners
Charities Section
Government Offices
Co. Tipperary

Telephone No. 067 63400 ext. 63377
Fax: 067 32916
Lo call: 1890 66 63 33
eMail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Posted in Articles on Volunteering

2When searching for new ideas on recruiting, retaining and recognizing volunteers most people often use the brainstorming technique in a group.


This can be a powerful technique for generating new ideas but people often think of a brainstorming session as a free-for-all with no boundaries. All this means is that you end up with the loudest, most dominant people saying the most.


So to make it more effective here are some useful guidelines to give you maximum benefit...

1. set a time (10 minutes) and have a timekeeper
2. have a scribe write down every idea - quickly
3. allow no negativity, no criticism and no evaluation of ideas
If you disagree with something, suggest the opposite as an idea 
and move on
4. absolutely no discussion of ideas until after the brainstorming
has finished - once you start discussing, the ideas will dry up.


Your goal is to generate possibilities and to keep the ideas coming. There will be time later to discuss, explain and analyze.
So keep to these guidelines and you and your group will generate more creative ideas much faster.
Adapted from the book Count Me In! 501 Ideas on Recruiting Volunteers via Dr Judy Esmond

National Day of Volunteering..What do you think?

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

clockOn October 1st this year it is the National Day of Volunteering and we in the Westmeath Volunteer Centre are wondering, is there any projects in your area that we in the Westmeath Volunteer Centre should consider on this day as a flagship project? We are looking at things like:

  • Community Makeover projects?
  • Environmental Projects
  • Community Days
  • Painting etc.

If you feel your group could host such an event and would like to be a showcase for volunteering in Westmeath then please let us know by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Top Ten Reasons why volunteers leave unexpectedly

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

Reason no. 10
The reality of their experience was not what they expected when they signed on
Reason no. 9
Employees treated them as an interruption, not as welcome (and anticipated) help.
Reason no. 8
Veteran long term volunteers wouldn't let them into their "insider" group.
Reason no. 7
They did not see the connection between one day's work and another.
Reason no. 6
They did not know how to tell you they wanted to leave.
Reason no. 5
They made a suggestion that was not acted on, or responded to.
Reason no. 4
The atmosphere was impersonal, tense or cold.
Reason no. 3
The physical environment did not support their efforts.
Reason no. 2
No one smiled at them.
Reason no. 1
They were underutilised.

Planning a Volunteer Position

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

This ‘worksheet’ is intended to assist you in deciding what types of volunteers could be of assistance to you. We hope that this information will make it easier for you to think of creative ways to involve volunteers and make it easier for us to recruit the right volunteer for you.

Potential Job Areas
In thinking about how and where volunteers might be involved in your area of responsibility, there are factors that you might want to consider. You might, for example, want to think about creating volunteer jobs through consideration of the following categories of work:
1. Are there areas of work that staff don’t want to do? This may be because they are not skilled in that type of work, or are too skilled for the work, or else simply have a preference to concentrate their efforts in another area.
2. Are there areas in which there is too much work for staff to do alone, and for which we might create volunteer assistants who can extend staff resources? These assistants might work directly with a staff person or could do tasks that benefit all staff.
3. Are there areas in which we can extend services because volunteers would allow us to begin work that we cannot now even consider undertaking?You might also want to consider the creation of volunteer jobs based on the recipients of the service.

Consider the following:
• Jobs that are of direct assistance to an individual client. (Counselling, visitation, mentoring, etc.)
• Office administrative help. (Information services, filing, messengers, etc.)
• Direct assistance to staff. (Research, training, computer assistance, etc.)
• Outreach. (Speakers bureau, fundraising, client marketing, etc.)

Volunteer Job Design
Keep the following keys in mind as you think about the specific work you would like the volunteer to do:
1. The work must be meaningful and significant, both to the agency and to our clientele. The work must be needed and should be interesting to someone. This means that your volunteer job must have a ‘Goal’ or a ‘Purpose’ that the volunteer can work to accomplish and can feel good about having achieved.
2. The volunteer ought to be able to feel some ‘ownership’ and ‘responsibility’ for the job.
3. Volunteers are not robots, but must feel that they have some input into and control over the work they are asked to do. This will mean including the volunteer in the flow of information and decision-making within the office.
4. The work must fit a part-time situation. Either the work must be small enough in scope to be productively approached in a few hours a week, or else it must be designed to be shared among a group of volunteers.
5. Volunteers must be ‘worked with.’ They should be assigned to work with staff who are capable of supervising their activities in a productive fashion, and providing on-going direction, evaluation and feedback. What arrangements will you need to make in order to ensure this supervision of the volunteer?

Scheduling the Volunteer Job
The more flexible the timeframe of the volunteer job, the greater the likelihood that we can find someone who will be willing to undertake it. Think about the following as different options for the job:
• Can the work be done to a totally flexible schedule at the discretion of the volunteer?
• Are there set hours during the week when we need the volunteer?
• Could the work be done on evenings or weekends?
• Must the work be done on-site at our office?

Assessing Managerial Readiness
The following considerations must also be addressed in thinking about a new volunteer position:
• Do we have adequate assigned workspace for the volunteer?
• Have we assigned a supervisor for the volunteer?
• Do we need to provide any orientation or training for our staff before they work with volunteers?
• Do we have a clear idea of the qualifications we will be looking for in a prospective volunteer?
• Do we know what training the volunteer will need to do the job the way we want it done?
• Do we have a firm description of the goals and objectives of the work to be done?
• Do we have a plan for including the volunteer in our office activities and communications flow?

If you have either ideas or questions, feel free to contact the Volunteer Centre and we’ll be happy to work with you in developing a plan for including volunteers.

Thanking and Supporting Volunteers - 50 ideas

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

1. Evaluate volunteer involvement on an ongoing basis
2. Create a climate in which volunteers can feel motivated
3. Say thank you often, and mean it
4. Match the volunteer's desires with the organisation's needs
5. Send birthday cards
6. Provide a clear role description for every volunteer
7. Make sure new volunteers are welcomed warmly
8. Highlight the impact that the volunteer contribution is having on the organisation
9. Show an interest in volunteers' personal interests and their outside life
10. Tell volunteers they have done a good job
11. Always have work for your volunteers to do and never waste their time
12. Give volunteers a real voice within the organisation
13. Set up a volunteer support group
14. Provide meaningful and enjoyable work
15. Send 'thank you' notes and letters when appropriate
16. Smile when you see them!
17. Say something positive about their personal qualities
18. Involve volunteers in decision-making processes
19. Give a certificate to commemorate anniversaries of involvement
20. Develop a volunteer policy
21. Allow volunteers the opportunity to debrief, especially if they work in stressful situations
22. Let volunteers put their names to something they have helped to produce or to make happen
23. Differentiate clearly between the roles of paid staff, trainees and volunteers
24. Have a volunteer comments box and consider any suggestions carefully
25. Make sure the volunteer coordinator is easily accessible and has an 'open door' policy
26. Provide insurance cover
27. Supervise volunteers' work
28. Have a vision for volunteer involvement in your organisation
29. Do not impose new policies and procedures without volunteers' input
30. Ask volunteers themselves how the organisation can show it cares
31. Permit volunteers to attend seminars, conferences and workshops from time to time
32. Give volunteers a proper induction
33. Celebrate the year's work together
34. Offer to write volunteers letters of reference
35. Accept that different volunteers are able to offer different levels of involvement
36. Accept that an individual volunteer's ability to commit may change over time
37. Ask volunteers' opinions when developing new policies and strategies
38. Make sure the Director (in large organisations) shows her/his personal appreciation of the volunteers' work
39. Pass on any positive comments about volunteers from clients to the volunteers themselves
40. Provide the opportunity for 'leave of absence'
41. Add volunteers to memo and e-mail distribution lists
42. Set solid goals for volunteers and keep communicating them
43. Provide car or bike parking for volunteers
44. Give the volunteer a title which reflects the work they do (not just 'volunteer')
45. Consider providing, or paying for, child care for volunteers who are parents
46. Inform the local press about the excellent work of your volunteers
47. Undertake individual supervision and support sessions
48. Always be courteous
49. Maintain regular contact with volunteers, even if they work 'off-site' or at odd hours
50. Allow volunteers to 'get out' without feeling guilty

Another 50 ways to thank volunteers

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

51. Keep volunteers informed of changes in structure and personnel
52. Provide adequate clothing and name badges if appropriate
53. Use quotes from volunteers in leaflets and annual reports
54. Devote resources (time and money) to volunteer support
55. Count up how many hours volunteers contribute and publicise this
56. Ensure all paid staff and trainees know how to work effectively with volunteers
57. Provide accredited training
58. Hang a volunteer photo board in a prominent position
59. Give volunteers the opportunity to evaluate their own performance and role
60. Do not overwhelm volunteers
61. Build volunteers' self-esteem by giving them a sense of ownership of their work
62. Always be appreciative of volunteers' contribution
63. Ensure volunteers have adequate space and equipment to do their work
64. Provide excellent training and coaching
65. Recognise that volunteers play a unique role
66. Have an annual volunteer award ceremony
67. Focus on the problem, if there is one, not the personality of the volunteer
68. Create two-way communication processes
69. Have occasional lunches, dinners, barbecues, picnics, etc
70. Create a volunteer notice board
71. Set up a volunteers forum
72. Allow volunteers to get involved in solving problems
73. Pay for an eye test if they sit in front of a computer all day
74. Review the progress of volunteers on a regular basis
75. Reimburse out-of-pocket expenses
76. Send a card at Christmas
77. Conduct an exit interview when a volunteer leaves
78. Have a 'volunteer voice' section in your newsletter
79. Be honest at all times
80. Provide constructive appraisal
81. Make volunteers feel good about themselves
82. Don't treat volunteers as 'second class citizens'
83. Ensure confidentiality for your volunteers
84. Present an occasional inexpensive gift
85. Provide volunteers with a 'rights and responsibilities' charter
86. Don't bully them into doing tasks which they have made clear they don't want to do
87. Give free membership to your organisation
88. Ensure you have adequate support skills yourself
89. Ask why volunteers are leaving or have left
90. Throw a volunteers party
91. Use surveys as a way of eliciting your volunteers' views
92. Provide free refreshments during coffee and tea breaks
93. Celebrate United Nations International Volunteer Day (5 December each year)
94. Suggest sources of help and support for personal problems
95. Allow volunteers to air legitimate grievances and make sure they are dealt with swiftly
96. Send a card or flowers if volunteers are ill or bereaved
97. Encourage them to sit on committees and attend meetings
98. Ensure a safe and healthy working environment
99. Allow volunteers to take on more challenging responsibilities
100. Make sure that every volunteer has equal access to support

Volunteering & Social Welfare

Posted in Articles on Volunteering

People who are in receipt of Social Welfare can volunteer for as long and as frequently as they wish without affecting any of their social welfare payments. However, if you are in receipt of payments from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs due to being unemployed or disabled, there are certain criteria, which apply to you. We have compiled this information here for you. Please take care to read this fully. If you need further assistance contact us by e-mail, phone, fax or just call in, we will be happy to help you.

People who are unemployed, we believe should have the right to volunteer. The range of voluntary work available is endless and by volunteering you can:

1. Gain Job Experience — Volunteer experience looks great on a resume. Also, some of the work you do could lead to a job doing similar work.

2. Improve Your Health and Self-Esteem —Volunteering to help others has been shown to reduce stress, give you hope, and boost your self-esteem.

3. Meet Real Community Needs —Helping people learn to read, or get basic food, clothing, shelter or furniture makes a huge difference! Whether the project is planting a tree or tutoring children, the community will look and feel better.

4. Gain New Skills and Develop Talents —Whether you enjoy working with computers, children, or seniors, any interest you have can be developed through volunteering.

5. Potential employers —By volunteering, unemployed people are showing potential employers that they can commit to work, are used to the work routine and have recently used, and possibly improved, their skills.

People who are in receipt of Social Welfare can do certain forms of voluntary work without losing their Unemployment Assistance/Unemployment Benefit and any other entitlements while remaining on the live register. However the individual must still meet the conditions for receiving their unemployment benefit, i.e. you must still be actively and genuinely seeking work and be available to take up work as soon as an opportunity comes your way. Volunteers should be aware that a commitment to full time volunteering may deem you unavailable for work, which may affect your entitlements.

Voluntary organisation who wish to have individuals in receipt of Social Welfare must have approval from the individual's local employment exchange before taking on the volunteer. To do this, the organisation must complete an application form (VW1) which can be obtained from the local office of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs.