Volunteer/Charity Work

Volunteer Ireland is the National Volunteer Development Agency, an independent and non-profit organisations that inspires, promotes, supports and facilitates volunteer-charity work activity in Ireland. Volunteering is a term that covers many different activities: it could be visiting an elderly person, planting trees, assisting a charity with its finances and administration, helping someone to read or write.

Volunteering is a serious commitment and although anyone can do it, before you ask to volunteer you should think about:

  • Why you want to volunteer
  • What type of voluntary work you would like to do
  • What skills or experience you can offer
  • How much time you can give
  • Other practicalities, such as when and where you want to volunteer

It is important to remember that volunteers have rights and responsibilities. As a volunteer, your rights are:

  • To know if, and how, you are being selected
  • To be given meaningful work to do
  • To know what is expected from you
  • To be offered appropriate training
  • To be thanked and have your voluntary contribution recognised
  • To receive supervision and support
  • To get something out of the work for themselves
  • To know who to go to if there is a problem
  • To be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses incurred when volunteering
  • To make mistakes and learn from them
  • To be made aware of any disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • To be treated fairly and not to experience discrimination
  • To have safe working conditions, including insurance cover
  • To be informed about, and given the opportunity to play an active part in, the organisation as a whole
  • To be able to say ‘no’ and to leave without feeling guilty

As a volunteer, your responsibilities are:

  • To respect the values and aims of the organisation
  • To be committed
  • To be reliable and give the organisation sufficient warning if unable to turn up
  • To be punctual
  • To attend essential training and support sessions
  • To undertake the work to a high standard
  • To be honest if there are problems
  • To respect confidentiality
  • To leave when asked and/or when no longer enjoying the volunteering experience

Volunteer organisations have also rights and responsibilities towards people who volunteer. Their responsibilities are:

  • To ensure the volunteering experience is a rewarding one
  • To ensure equal access and not to discriminate
  • To define clear, meaningful roles for volunteers
  • To have policies and procedures for volunteers
  • To provide all necessary information to volunteers
  • To be available for volunteers
  • To provide training where necessary
  • To thank and value volunteers
  • To provide insurance cover
  • To inform volunteers of any legal liabilities
  • To supervise and to provide support
  • To reimburse out-of-pocket expenses
  • To provide a safe working environment

Their rights are:

  • To look for certain qualities and skills in volunteers
  • To select only volunteers who are suitable for the work
  • To draw up a volunteer agreement or ‘contract’
  • To ask for tasks to be done in a particular way
  • To ask for commitment
  • To ask for reliability
  • To ask for punctuality
  • To deal with disciplinary and grievance matters
  • To ask volunteers to leave if their involvement hinders the organisation achieving its goals

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