Volunteer Manager

The Job and What's Involved

A volunteer manager is responsible for recruiting, training and looking after volunteers. A volunteer may work for any of a number of third sector organisations (organisations that are not fully in the private or public sector), such as:

- Not for profit organisations
- Charity organisations
- Community projects or groups
- Voluntary organisations

Volunteers are not paid for the work they do. They may be involved in a range of activities, from working in charity shops and fundraising, to assisting on a conservation, environmental or community project.

Volunteer managers will look for volunteers to work for their organisations, which may be concerned with:

- Animal welfare
- Arts and heritage
- Campaigning for an issue/cause
- The environment and conservation
- Residential volunteering in the UK
- Sports
- Health and social care
- Overseas development
- The welfare of young people

A volunteer manager needs to ensure that an organisation is attracting the right volunteers, with the correct skills and qualifications for the opportunity available.

They may be responsible for:

Promotion and marketing - to attract new volunteers through campaigns, adverts, presentations, talks and word of mouth. Ninety-five per cent of organisations use word of mouth as their main method of recruiting volunteers.

Recruitment - interviewing volunteers to assess their skills and qualities, producing task/role descriptions and placing volunteers in an appropriate role. They may co-ordinate the availability of volunteers, when and where they should work.

Training and Development - putting together induction and training programmes.

Administration - writing volunteer policies and guidelines, issuing procedure handbooks and reports, and producing publicity material.

Equal Opportunities - developing an understanding of equal opportunities and anti-discrimination legislation

Pay Policy - supervising any paid staff.

Budgetry Control - managing a budget and ensuring that volunteer costs are reimbursed.

A volunteer manager also needs to take the opportunity to network with other charitable organisations.

A volunteer manager usually works between 37 and 40 hours a week, from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required to meet project deadlines. Evening and weekend work may be required and time off in lieu of overtime may be available. There may be part-time and job share opportunities.

The role may be office based or hands-on, for example, following an overseas disaster, where there is the need to lead by example. Some travelling may be required to attend meetings or events. A driving licence may be useful.

Smart-casual dress is normally expected.

Annual starting salaries are around £18,000 to £21,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are nearly 200,000 charities throughout the UK, with approximately 22 million volunteers. Volunteering is worth £40 billion per year to the voluntary sectors. People are developing a social conscience and want to put something back into society.

There is a wide diversity within the voluntary sector. Organisations range from high profile household names to small groups with a registered charitable status.

Opportunities exist throughout the UK, although many of the larger charities have their head offices in London or the Southeast.

Vacancies can be found through local and national newspapers, The Big Issue, specialist charity publications (such as Third Force News, Third Sector and Charity Week) and Jobcentre Plus. Job websites for the charity sector include www.jobsincharities.co.uk, www.voluntarysectorjobs.co.uk, www.charityjob.co.uk and www.charitypeople.co.uk. Some voluntary organisations also advertise vacancies on their own websites.

Education and Training

Employers do not usually have any formal entry requirements, although they are likely to ask for five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in English and maths. There is a great emphasis on work experience within the voluntary sector and doing hands-on volunteer work.

There may be opportunities to start work as a volunteer, or move into voluntarily managing other volunteers, before moving into a paid role as a manager.

Working for a Charity, a project of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), offers practical advice and guidance to anyone wishing to work in the voluntary sector. They offer various courses giving an insight into voluntary work and employment opportunities. The courses range from a short two-evening introductory programme to an on-line course, Effective Voluntary Sector Management.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training will depend on the organisation's structure and budget. Some charities will have dedicated in-house training teams, while others will use external training providers.

Working For A Charity's short training courses are recognised by the voluntary sector.

Volunteering England offers an Excellence in Volunteering Management (EVM) programme. The programme consists of:

  • Training modules, which are accessed via licensed training providers, either through e-learning or through face-to-face delivery.
  • An award endorsed by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
  • Learning Loops, a development tool.
  • The Management Development Programme for Volunteer Centre Managers.
  • A variety of learning tools.

The Management Development Programme for Volunteer Centre Managers is open to volunteer centre managers, staff and volunteers. It covers:

- Managing and motivating people
- Measuring and managing performance
- Action planning and effective working
- Marketing, presentation and public relations (PR)
- Finance as a management tool
- Project management
- Leadership
- Developing people and teams
- Effective strategy in a changing environment

The National Open College Network offers various awards and certificates at levels 2 and 3. These include:

- Managing Volunteers
- Managing Voluntary and Community Organisations

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A voluntary manager should:

  • Believe in the charitable cause.
  • Have a social conscience.
  • Have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Be enthusiastic, yet a realist.
  • Be a negotiator.
  • Be able to motivate others.
  • Be able to work under their own initiative.
  • Be organised and able to prioritise work.
  • Be able to work under pressure.
  • Have outstanding organisational skills.
  • Be able to work with personnel from all levels.
  • Be politically aware.
  • Enjoy working with people as a leader and team player.
  • Have numerical skills and be able to handle a budget.
  • Have good IT skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Even with work experience, prospects may be limited. Volunteer managers may have to change employers and move to larger organisations in order to progress.

For some volunteer managers there may be opportunities to be promoted to more senior positions and be given greater responsibility.

Opportunities exist in other related career areas, such as training, marketing or human resources.

Get Further Information

Directory of Social Change,
24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP
Tel: 020 7391 4800
Website: www.dsc.org.uk

Lantra, Lantra House,
Stoneleigh Park, Nr Coventry,
Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 6996
Website: www.lantra.co.uk

National Open College Network,
The Quadrant, Parkway Business Park,
99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield S9 4WG
Tel: 0114 227 0500
Website: www.nocn.org.uk

Scottish Association for Volunteer Management,
c/o British Red Cross, Bradbury House,
Grangemouth Road, Falkirk FK2 9AA
Tel: 01324 630968
Website: www.savm.org.uk

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO),
Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place,
Edinburgh EH3 6BB
Tel: 0131 556 3882
Website: www.scvo.org.uk

UK Workforce Hub, Regent's Wharf,
8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL
Tel: 0800 652 5737
Website: www.ukworkforcehub.org.uk

Volunteer Development Agency (Northern Ireland),
129 Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 1SH
Tel: 028 9023 6100
Website: www.volunteering-ni.org

Volunteer Development Scotland,
Stirling Enterprise Park,
Stirling FK7 7RP
Tel: 01786 479593
Website: www.vds.org.uk

Volunteering England, Regent's Wharf,
8 All Saint's Street, London N1 9RL
Tel: 0800 028 3304
Website: www.volunteeringengland.org.uk

Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA),
Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square,
Cardiff Bay, Cardiff CF10 5FH
Tel: 029 2043 1700
Website: www.wcva.org.uk

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