An agreement set out on paper can be a good way of clarifying the role of a new volunteer as well as the expectations of the food co-op. Likewise, appointing or hiring a co-ordinator can be a very useful way to manage volunteers and to ensure everyone has a clear point of contact.
You can download a sample volunteer agreement and adapt it to the needs of your organisation. It is important to ensure that the legal status of any agreement is made clear (i.e. that it is not a contract of employment) as otherwise, the volunteer and food co-op will be subject to employment law.
For a large food co-op, it is particularly useful to have a volunteer policy which clarifies how volunteers are recruited, reimbursed for expsenses, etc. to ensure consistency and fairness in working with volunteers.
Appointing or hiring a co-ordinator to take over the administrative tasks of the co-op is a good way of maintaining continuity, and ensuring that tasks are reallocated if a volunteer leaves or takes time off.
Some tasks that the volunteer co-ordinator could undertake are:
- Co-ordination of volunteer tasks and rotas
- Organising away days
- Organising volunteer meetings
- Dealing with volunteer expenses
- Organising one-to-one sessions with volunteers to check on progress, overcome problems and help plan training or other support
A co-ordinator for the food co-op is often one of the more experienced volunteers in the co-op and can be a paid position. Regular contact between volunteers and the volunteer co-ordinator is important to ensure that both parties are happy with how things are going. How you do this will depend on how informal or formal you wish to be. Discussions can be run by the co-ordinator if there is one, or you might prefer to host weekly group meet ups to talk about how things are going. What ever you choose, be sure to praise volunteers, value their contribution, and find opportunities to celebrate successes.
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