Useful volunteer management resources for heritage professionals

Date published 2011 - 2012. Revised: January 2018

Discover how to organise, manage, coordinate, and develop a volunteer programme in the museum, heritage and cultural sector.

The following are some specific links to downloadable resources for volunteers in the heritage and cultural sector.

Volunteer management guides and toolkits

  • Working with Volunteers: A management guide for refugee community organisations: A short guide for refugee organisations who want to involve volunteers, but also a useful volunteer management guide for any small organisation with limited resources.
  • Volunteer Management Toolkit: A toolkit developed by Essex Museum Development that provides guidance and templated to help museums recruit, retain and develop volunteers and trustees.
  • Get it Right from the Start: A guide for those looking to develop a volunteer policy and diversify the range of volunteers they involve.
  • Volunteer Organisers Toolkit: This was produced by Heritage Volunteer Organisers Scotland (HVOS) thanks to funding from Museums Galleries Scotland. The toolkit shows you how to plan and use action methods to set up or enhance your volunteering programme. The toolkit provides sample templates and forms, such as checklists and policies, that can be adapted to suit your needs.
  • Volunteering in the Arts Toolkit (England & Scotland): These toolkits have been produced to support small and medium-sized arts groups who struggle to improve the support they offer volunteers.
  • Arts & Volunteering: A adapted Volunteering in the Arts Toolkit specifically for a Northern Irish audience.

Examples of volunteer handbooks

Do you need to produce a volunteer handbook or application form? The following examples can be used as a baseline to adapt to your own learning volunteer programme.

We are grateful to our contributors: Catherine Artmell, Sue Davies and Sue MacKay for sharing these resources.

Other useful resources

  • Volunteer NOW provides lots of great resources for best practice in volunteer management.
  • South West Museum Development have compiled and developed volunteering resources in a Volunteer Framework.
  • Volunteers and the law: Volunteering England produced this guide on legal issues for volunteer managers, such as volunteers and employment rights, benefits and tax, safety and security, data protection and specific volunteering situations.
  • Recognising and Valuing Volunteers : Volunteer Scotland produced this quick guide on how to help show volunteers that you appreciate their input and commitment.

Volunteering and under-represented groups

Measuring volunteer impacts and value

  • Experts in Evaluation: This toolkit offers a comprehensive guide to help any organisation with a volunteer programme, to successfully measure their programmes impact and value.
  • Experts in Volunteering: The Experts in Volunteering project, by Greater London Volunteering, developed an excellent Volunteer Management Charter, outlining the ten good practice points that indicate an organisation has good volunteer management. It has a great downloadable health-check that you can use to review volunteer management in your museum and identify areas for improvement.

Good reads

  • Turn your Organisation into a Volunteer Magnet
    This book contains a selection of articles from volunteer managers in the UK, America and Australia. There are lots of tips and case studies on topics ranging from recruitment and retention, to diversity and creative programme management. (2007)
  • VM Movement is a volunteer blog all about championing the vital role carried out by those of you leading, managing and co-ordinating volunteering.
  • The impact of volunteering on wellbeing in later life: This report produced by Professor James Nazroo and Katey Matthews for the Royal Voluntary Service, describes the findings and conclusions from a study on the relationship between volunteering and well-being in later life.

Useful websites and links

  • National Council for Voluntary Organisations is a membership organisation which provides support to the voluntary sector. It produces a number of resources, training and events.
  • Association of Volunteer Managers is a voice, resource and network for anyone involved with volunteer programmes.
  • Volunteer Scotland has a wide range of resources, such as good practice guides on creating volunteer agreements, role descriptions, volunteer policies, and lots of other topics.
  • Do-it is a site for volunteers and volunteer managers. You can advertise for potential volunteers, search for volunteer opportunities, network with other volunteer managers, read blogs on volunteering and volunteer management, or even set up a private group for your own volunteers to network with each other. They also have a series of how-to guides.
  • Vinspired is a free online platform where you can advertise your volunteering opportunities to young people aged 14-25 across the UK. If you have volunteers under 25 they might be interested in using their volunteering to gain a vinspired award. They can record their volunteering hours online, and keep a record of the skills they are developing. Once they have completed 10 hours they will be eligible to apply for the first award, and can reach an award up to 100 hours.
  • Advertise volunteer opportunities in the heritage and cultural learning sector with GEM Jobs.

Local Networks for Heritage Volunteer Managers

If you’re looking for peer support, then you can get in touch with your local network.

Heritage Volunteering Group (HVG): HGV helps to support networks in the UK, if there’s not a local network in your area, read their guide “Building a Sustainable Volunteer Management Network” and then get in touch with them.

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