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Key points:

  • Your small charity should treat its staff and volunteers with respect, and have a positive organisational attitude to its people.
  • Your recruitment strategy will be shaped by whether you need staff or volunteers, the number of people your charity requires, and the work your charity is doing.
  • Charities should ensure that they have adequate pre-engagement checks in place when employing new staff or volunteers.
  • Ongoing staff and volunteer management occurs through planning, processes and procedures.
  • Handovers and inductions play a vital role in having new arrivals feel welcome and become quickly productive.

The ACNC is the national regulator for charities, but we do not have jurisdiction over charity staff and volunteer management.

While we have an interest in ensuring charities are run well and adhere to ACNC Governance Standards, other regulators set the tone – and the law – in this area.

There are regulators for employment and volunteering at the state and territory level, such as WorkSafe and SafeWork, and Fair Work and the Fair Work Ombudsman at the federal level.

Ultimately, your charity must follow the laws of the land, be they federal, state or territory or even local council regulations.

Your charity should have a positive organisational attitude towards its volunteers or staff. Treat them well, value their contributions, respect them and make them feel welcome.

Often the easiest thing you can do as a charity is to simply say thank you – and there are plenty of ways your small charity can do this effectively.

Publicly express your appreciation, as well as thanking volunteers and staff privately. Show your appreciation in your annual report, on your website or even with a small function or get-together at the end of the year.

Showing your appreciation means so much to people, and helps foster a positive relationship.

How your charity goes about recruiting staff or volunteers will of course depend on the task at hand, and the number of people required.

Sometimes an informal process, such as calling on supporters for a few hours' worth of effort, might suffice. At other times, it might mean a more formal recruitment process for a new staff member.

Either way, your charity will need two things before it recruits – a solid recruitment policy and a staff or volunteer management policy.

Your recruitment policy doesn’t have to be anything more than a clear set of steps governing how you will recruit new staff or volunteers, including who in your organisation makes the decisions. It can also look at how your charity:

  • asks or advertises for volunteers or staff
  • screens potential recruits before engaging them, including relevant reference checks
  • complies with relevant laws and general good practice, including anti-discrimination measures
  • ensures it has a volunteer agreement or terms of employment document for incoming staff.

Your staff or volunteer management policy should include:

  • role or position descriptions
  • the duties your new recruits are expected to fulfil
  • your charity’s expectations on staff and volunteer behaviour
  • your charity's management structure, including who the staff and volunteers report to
  • an outline of your charity’s induction or handover processes.

There are several useful policy documents freely available on the web which cover both the recruitment and management of staff and volunteers.

The first key step in your charity’s successful management of staff and volunteers is simply being aware of its importance and getting the small things right.

  • Develop a positive, welcoming culture at your charity.
  • Say thanks – and mean it.
  • Keep them motivated and interested – for example, through new responsibilities or opportunities to learn.
  • Ensure there are ways staff and volunteers can provide feedback, or channels through which they can access help and support.

If you have staff or volunteers leave your charity, sit down with them to gain some feedback by conducting an exit interview. Ensure you tie up any loose ends with the volunteer or staff member who is leaving by checking if:

  • their pay and documentation are up to date
  • they have returned any charity equipment they might have been using
  • you have removed or transferred access to charity information, like bank account details and social media passwords
  • they have left handover notes so that the next person has all of the information required to fill that role.

Practical handover and induction processes are also part of successful staff and volunteer management.

It is really important that your handover documents include information about the charity's ongoing obligations to the ACNC, as well as information about how to sign up to and use the Charity Portal.

Find out more about handovers and inductions for small charities in our Small Charities Library.

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