Volunteer Work Design

volunteer with childrenEvery volunteer needs a written position (or project) description before starting an assignment. It is the reference point from which all parties understand the work to be completed, the support to be provided, and the expected outcomes. It should include:

  • An engaging title that describes the position while stimulating interest
  • A brief overview that places the position in context with the rest of the organization
  • Three to five key responsibilities that help prospective candidates visualize their working environment
  • Commitment – duration, amount of time, scheduling, location
  • An impact statement that ties responsibilities to short- and/or long-term outcomes
  • Support and training provided
  • Required/desired qualifications and skills
  • Benefits for the volunteer

Be prepared to provide opportunities for different levels of volunteer commitment. Some volunteers look for episodic involvement that may not involve children directly. Others relish regularly scheduled shifts in classrooms and/or support functions. By providing options, you broaden your network of supporters while securing valuable contributions to your work. Moreover, “entry level” volunteers may assume more substantive roles over time.

Classroom volunteers should be encouraged to commit to at least 6 months of regular service. One Executive Director explained: “To have a volunteer who comes sporadically is really hard on kids. It teaches them to distrust adults. Our particular population has home lives that are erratic. We want to have help from people who understand that this is about joining our family, and that those relationships matter.”

The sample position descriptions to the right have been used successfully by our Learning Community. You may also find the following resources helpful:

Finally, major fundraising events often require a large number of volunteers for whom full-fledged position descriptions are not required. Family Building Blocks generously supplied copies of their 2013 Uncorked Wine Auction position descriptions and volunteer orientation letter. These sample materials may jump-start your event planning process.

Sample Position Descriptions