Things to consider before you start

From Our Toolkit

Whether you already have volunteers contributing to your organisation or you are thinking about attracting volunteers. You need to consider how you will manage and support them. This page summarises the key issues and this toolkit topic will help you to address them.

A useful starting point is the Heritage Volunteer Organisers Scotland’s Volunteer Organisers Toolkit which takes your organisation through planning and day-day organisations and provides a library of templates.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Volunteering guidance lists the range of issues you need to think about to enable your organisation to manage and support its volunteers:

Insurance cover:

  • volunteers need to be covered either under your employer’s liability insurance or public liability insurance.
  • depending on the type of work involved your organisation may also need professional indemnity insurance.
  • policies should explicitly mention volunteers because they may not automatically be covered.

For further information see the Legal compliance subject in the Governance topic of this toolkit.

Organisational policy:

  • all your relevant organisational policies and documents should reference volunteers. You should also have a Volunteer Policy in place .

For further information see the Legal compliance subject in the Governance topic of this toolkit.

  • your organisational risk assessments should be kept up to date, and make reference to volunteers.

For further information see the Managing risk subject in the Governance topic of this toolkit.


  • not all your volunteering activities will require your volunteers to be DBS checked, for a quick guide go to CRB Direct’s Volunteering at a Museum – Do I need DBS?
  • make sure you appoint a designated person with safeguarding responsibility and ensure your volunteers know who to talk to if they have any concerns.

For further information see the Safeguarding subject in the Learning topic of this toolkit.


  • give all volunteers an induction to your organisation.
  • compile and have easily accessible a volunteer handbook that contains useful information for everyone about your organisation.

Structured roles and goals:

  • have clearly defined volunteer roles, and a process for advertising and recruitment.
  • have in place volunteer agreements to ensure everyone is clear about the scope of their role.
  • provide structured opportunities to enable volunteers to develop their skills and expertise.

Volunteer feedback:

  • provide ways for volunteers to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences, not only with their manager but with other colleagues and the wider organisation.

Reward and recognition:

  • how you will recognise the contribution volunteers make to your organisation.

Health check:

  • undertaking this type of assessment will help you to assess if you have the policies, procedures and structures in place to support your volunteers it is useful to carry out a health check. It will help you to identify any gaps in your support and will assist you in producing an action plan to address these gaps.


The following organisations have useful checklists:

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