How to Write a Job Description That Your Volunteers Will Love

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An incredibly useful tool, the volunteer job description creates the basis for your volunteer recruitment efforts.

Each job description should explain the assignment, plus the skills, abilities and interests necessary to perform the volunteer task successfully. 

Clarity is what every volunteer prefers. Before you even start recruiting volunteers, make a list of the jobs you want them to perform and then describe those positions as clearly as you can.

 

A job description isn't very different from one that you prepare for a paid employee. Also, clear expectations can help avoid a host of problems later.

There are many ways to write the position description but here are some components that you should cover:

  1. Position Title

    An accurate, descriptive title provides the volunteer with a sense of identity and ensures that salaried staff and other volunteers understand this particular role. Steer away from descriptions that have to do with the presence or lack of pay. For example, why call the receptionist a "volunteer" receptionist? You don't say "paid" receptionist for a staff member.

  2. Work Location

    Where will the individual be working? Can the work be done at home or only on-site, or at a particular site? Make sure that there is public transportation near your work site/s so you can recruit people who might not have their transportation.

  3. Purpose of the Position

    How will the volunteer's work affect the project's outcome, clients, or mission? It is important to identify the expected impact for both direct service and administrative assignments so that volunteers understand how important their work is. This is especially important for public-facing jobs.

  1. Responsibilities and Duties

    Identify the volunteer position's specific responsibilities and duties. Define what is expected from the volunteer.

  2. Qualifications

    It pays to be very clear and concrete in listing qualifications for any volunteer position. Include education, personal characteristics, skills, abilities and experience required.

  1. Commitment Expected

    What do you expect of the volunteer? Include Length of service, hours per week, hours per day. Include any special requirements such as weekend work.

  2. Training

    List what training the volunteer will receive. Include general training that all positions receive plus any position-specific training for this assignment.

Include the date the description was written or the date that it was updated. List the volunteer supervisor's name and his/her contact information. Include information about how to get more information and whom to call if interested. You might want to include signature lines for the volunteer manager and the site supervisor if appropriate.

Sample of a Volunteer Job Description 

Job Title: Day Chair

Purpose: The Day Chair serves as the receptionist for the Charles County Agency on Aging, supporting the Agency's mission of supporting the elderly population of Charles County. The Day Chair represents the agency to those members of the public who visit the agency's offices Monday, Weds, and Friday from 9 a.m.

- 4 p.m.

Location: The Day Chair works in the public reception area of the agency's central office at 567 N. Oak St in Tulsa, OK.

Key Responsibilities:

  • The Day Chair answers the phone and directs calls.
  • Greets guests and directs them to other offices or locations.
  • Answers questions about the agency and provides forms when necessary.
  • Prints out a list of activities that take place that day at the agency's offices and satellite locations.
  • Makes reminder phone calls to other volunteers who are assigned to projects for the following day.
  • Opens the mail and distributes it.
  • Records donations that come in and enters them in the database.
  • Proofreads brochure copy when time allows.
  • Help prepare bulk mailings.
  • Prepares correspondence as needed.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Reports to Assistant Director of the Charles County Agency on Aging

Length of Appointment: The Day Chair is assigned to one day per week for three months. After three months, the Day Chair may be reappointed for another three months at the discretion of the supervisor. After six months, the person who is serving as Day Chair may rotate to another position within the agency.

Time Commitment: One day per week (M, W, or F) for six hours (9-12 am and 1-4 pm), for a minimum of three months.

Qualifications: Basic knowledge of computer and data entry. Pleasant manner, patience, problem-solving ability, dependability.

Support: Training for this position will be provided. Also, the Assistant Director will be available for questions and assistance.

Age Requirement: None

Dress Code: Business Casual

Other categories that might be included in a volunteer position description are:

  • Certifications/licenses required, such as CPR Certification or a Commercial Drivers License.
  • Development opportunities, such as training and promotion to other positions. 
  • Security checks required, such as criminal history check or fingerprint check.
  • Benefits, such as a certificate of service, free parking, or tuition remission.

Volunteer descriptions are not only for the benefit of the volunteer but to make sure there are no legal problems as well. Volunteers love clear expectations, training, and consistency from their volunteer managers.

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