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Volunteer Position Descriptions

Robust volunteer position descriptions are an integral component to an effectively managed volunteer program. Developing volunteer position descriptions is an opportunity to intentionally map out what your organization needs help with and how volunteers will ultimately support your mission. They are the foundation upon which good recruitment campaigns are built. They set expectations with volunteers and give you something to base performance reviews on. So just as you would for a staff member, develop a detailed position description for volunteers that clearly defines the activities and responsibilities of the role as well as minimum and preferred qualifications.

Volunteer position descriptions should include:

  • Position Title: Titles denote respect and authority. Recognize your volunteers with a title that is appropriate to their role.
  • Purpose: What is the ultimate goal of this position? How does it related to your mission? What does success look like?
  • Position Summary: What are the primary duties and responsibilities of this role? Write a clear and concise position description.
  • Benefits: What can a volunteer expect to get out of this opportunity?
  • Reports to: Who can the volunteer turn to for the guidance and support necessary to fulfill this role?
  • Skill Set: What qualifications, skills and proficiencies are needed to fulfill this role?
  • Commitment: What are your expectations in terms of duration of the role overall, the number of hours needed, or duration and frequency of shifts?
  • Time: What are the times that this position is available for? The more options you can provide, the more likely an individual will be to find a time that works for them.
  • Location: Is this work all on-site or are there considerations to be aware of?
  • Application: What information do you need to see up front in order to consider if a volunteer would be a good match for your need? How do they apply?
  • Contact Details: How do you want them to contact you? Email? Website? Phone? Mail?

Whether you are looking for a large number of general volunteers for an ongoing program or an individual with a particular skill set, be as specific as you can about the role and the skills needed.  For direct service roles, be sensitive to the culture and needs of the communities you are serving.  Be sure to involve staff members when designing volunteer roles so that the volunteer will be supported and valued by others in your organization.

Sample Position Descriptions

Here are some sample volunteer position descriptions created by nonprofits participating in United Way's Volunteer Impact Partnership programs:

Use this position design process worksheet to create a meaningful volunteer position of your own!

Return to Topics in Volunteer Management Guide.