Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities

An important excerpt from the Chapter Handbook

Volunteers are the face, heart, and soul of CNPS. For this reason, CNPS encourages a culture of gratitude and celebration of volunteers. The same way job descriptions provide clarity in employee roles and responsibilities, developing a volunteer position description helps ensure successful performance of their role.

In addition, the following provides a list of rights and responsibilities that should be shared with all volunteers.

A. Volunteer Rights


1. The right to feel safe. All volunteers have the right to be apprised of any potential risks as well as have precautionary measures and safety procedures in place to ensure physical and emotional well-being.
2. The right to information about volunteer roles or projects. All volunteers have the right to know the who, what, when, why, and how of the volunteer positions.
3. The right to feel valued. Volunteering—whether for two hours or two years—is a significant commitment. In return, volunteers have the right to feel time and contributions are valued.
4. The right to negotiate the volunteer role. Volunteers have the right to talk to the volunteer manager or supervisor to discuss potential ways to shift roles or take on another project or position. And if a good fit can’t be found…
5. The right to leave. This isn’t a decision that should be made hastily but, if after talking to and working with the volunteer manager or supervisor, a volunteer still feels unhappy, unappreciated, or unsatisfied with the volunteer experience, the volunteer has the right to leave.

B. Volunteer Responsibilities

1. The responsibility to communicate needs. Talk to the volunteer manager. Let them know the experience is not living up to expectations hoped. Don’t hesitate to let them know if additional tools, training, or support would be helpful. 
2. The responsibility to follow through on obligations. Help improve the reputation of volunteers worldwide by following through on commitments. 
3. The responsibility to promise only what’s deliverable. It’s fairly easy to promise too much, unintentionally, when one is excited about making a difference. 
4. The responsibility to honor the organization’s investment in its volunteers. Organizations invest quite a bit in their volunteers via staff time, tools, training, and so on. Once in the role, try negotiating a new volunteer role if unsatisfied, rather than suddenly leaving. 
5. The responsibility to take care of yourself. Last but most certainly not least, volunteers have the responsibility to make sure they aren’t overextending, burning out, or causing physical, mental, or emotional harm by taking on roles that aren’t a good fit or for which they aren’t properly prepared. 
6. The responsibility to support and communicate with CNPS staff.

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