Volunteer agreement and management

When a new volunteer starts, an agreement set out on paper can be a good way of clarifying the role of the volunteer and expectations of the food co-op.

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), otherwise the volunteer will be subject to employment law. You can download a sample volunteer agreement and adapt it to the needs of your organisation.

It is also good for an organisation that has a large number of volunteers to have a volunteer policy which clarifies how volunteers are recruited, reimbursed for expsenses, etc. to ensure consistency and fairness in working with volunteers.

Many food co-ops find it helpful to appoint a volunteer co-ordinator to undertake the administration associated with working with volunteers and also provide a contact person for the volunteers to communicate with.

This role could be a paid position or one of the more experienced volunteers in the food co-op. This is a good way of maintaining continuity of the food co-op, and ensuring that tasks are reallocated if a volunteer leaves or takes time off.

Some tasks that the volunteer co-ordinator could undertake are:

  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Induction
  • Co-ordination of volunteer tasks and rotas
  • Troubleshooting
  • 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

Regular contact with the volunteer is important to ensure that both parties are happy with the work. 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 bring the volunteers together as a group to talk about how things are going. It is very important to praise volunteers, value their contribution, and find opportunities to celebrate successes.


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