Developing Policies and
Procedures for Volunteer Organizations
Table of Contents
- Why an Organization Needs Policies
- What Are Procedures?
- Steps to Developing Polices and Procedures
- Sample Indexes
- Policy and Procedure Template
As demands for accountability and transparency in volunteer organizations
increase, it is more important than ever that not-for-profit organizations
develop policies and procedures that demonstrate they are acting
with due diligence, as required.
The process of developing policies and procedures is an important
duty for a Board of Directors and should not be delegated to a single
person or staff. The task is not easy nor quickly done but once
completed, policies and procedures are an effective tool for the
Why an Organization Needs Policies
Policies are written statements that tell people "what to
- provide continuity by ensuring consistency in the life of the
- define the organizations values and goals
- provide principles for members, staff and volunteers so that
everyone understands responsibilities and limitations
- act as a framework for decision making and to guide actions
- provide boundaries by clarifying communication lines and ensuring
- are a mechanism where the board can delegate authority and maintain
- document decisions so they can be easily recalled
- demonstrate that the organization is actively managing its risk.
It is best to plan before something occurs and to prevent it from
- reduce upheaval when people change or leave the organization
- provide valuable orientation and training for volunteers, members
- demonstrate credibility to the public and members
What Are Procedures?
When a policy is identified, procedures are written to describe
how it will be applied or implemented. Procedures are a set of written
instructions that describe the recommended steps for a particular
policy. Procedures describe the how, when and by whom. They:
- explain how to apply the rules and regulations
- identify the activities to support the policy
- define the course of action arising from policy decisions
- outline details for implementing the policy
- describe the consequences that will arise from non-compliance
Steps to Developing Polices and Procedures
Although it may seem like an overwhelming task, writing polices
is simply putting on paper your existing practices and approaches.
Before starting, appoint a special committee to concentrate on
the drafting of a policies and procedures manual. They can seek
input from the people who will be expected to follow the policies
and consult with the Board as needed.
- Gather the documents and information about how things are done
currently. This includes constitution, bylaws, any legislation
that affects the organization, existing contacts and obligations,
and current information and motions from past minutes.
- Define the organizations mission with a clear statement
of why it exists.
- Governance structure assess how the Board, committees,
volunteers and staff work together and interact. This helps determine
the policies that are needed.
- Define who does what. It helps clarify who is responsible and
what is needed.
- Define issues and challenges. This helps prioritize the policies
that need to be developed.
- Create a standard format. A basic template is included at the
end of this Factsheet and the internet can provide other versions.
- Placing the documents into a binder is a convenient way of sorting,
updating and retrieving information. The size of organization
will determine whether a single or multiple manuals are needed.
- Identify the policy categories. Some examples: Organizational,
Administrative, Human Resources, Financial Management, Property
- Include indexes to help find information. Create a master index
if more than one binder is used.
- Consider how to number the information. Each policy needs to
have a unique identifier and to be assigned a category.
Develop a Template
- Set appropriate margins to ensure consistency and easy reading.
For documents placed in binders, make the left-hand margin wider.
- The page layout should include the policy statement, procedures
related to it and any references to legislation, constitution,
other polices and procedures.
- Select an easy-to read font, for example Ariel or Times New
Roman, in 11 or 12 pt. size.
- Make titles larger and bolded. They do not need to be the same
font as the text.
- Maintain a consistent format for dates throughout all documents.
- Be direct, use active verbs and the present tense. For example:
The Board reviews the policy rather than The
policy will be reviewed by the Board.
- Use position titles not an individuals name.
- Use capitals for proper nouns with consistency i.e. position
- Write in plain, clear language in correct grammar.
- Be concise and make sure it is understandable.
- Use abbreviations only after the first reference has been written
out in full with its acronym in brackets.
- Spell out numbers one to nine, use numerals for 10 and over.
- When drafting procedures provide clear, step by step instructions
that specify the actions required.
- Be consistent in representing the organizations values
- The Board is responsible for reviewing and accepting the draft
- Policies and procedures are not static. Develop guidelines to
review them regularly.
- If a policy or procedure is not applicable then delete, update
Education and Distribution
- A key component of policies and procedures is making sure people
know they exist and how they guide the organization.
- Address how members and volunteers learn about the policies
and all updates particularly in areas that affect them,
their programs and their activities.
- Keep the policies and procedures manual current, replacing versions
as new ones are developed.
- It is important to keep a copy of all versions of the policies.
Develop a procedure outlining who is responsible and how the versions
will be maintained.
Below are examples of some topics and related policies that may
be needed in your organization. This list is not exhaustive as each
organization has to tailor them to meet its needs. This factsheet
is focused on volunteer organizations. If your organization has
employees then specific polices and procedures will be needed.
- Contact information for board/employees
- Articles of incorporation/letters patent
- Mission, vision and values
- Operating structure
- Roles and responsibilities for offices
- Committee structure and roles
- Strategic plan
- Access to information
- Record retention/archives
- Conflict of interest
- Insurance third party, bonding, directors and officers
- Meetings voting, cancellation
- Board/employee relations
- Accounting methods reporting
- Assets inventory, value, disposal
- Audit level of scrutiny, who, appointment at annual meeting
- Banking chartered bank/credit union, types of accounts,
services required, signing officers, who can deposit, receipt
of bank statements
- Budget preparation and management
- Legal requirements Goods and Services Tax (GST) deductions
and remittance, security and retention of financial records
- Expenses receipts, mileage, meal and parking reimbursement,
- Cash management cash, reserve fund
- Fund development recorded, types of activities accepted,
receipts, charitable considerations
- Investment surplus funds, low risk investments, board
approval, use of revenue
- Cheque control and safeguard storage, used in numerical
order, void cheques in file, two signatures, expenses paid by
cheque, receipts for purchased items, limit of cheque amount without
- Contracts tendering at specific level, board approval,
signing authority, file copy storage, changes to contract
- Credit authorized amount, credit card, acceptable use,
payment with receipts, only for organization business
Human Resource Policies
- Members and volunteers
- Recruitment of member and volunteers who is responsible
- Orientation and training of volunteers who, when, how
- Board of directors
- recruitment of directors nominating committee
- orientation and training
- management meeting attendance, committee work, participation
- evaluation and recognition of directors
- dismissal of a director
- Recognition volunteer descriptions, in what manner, how
- Board meetings who can attend
- Dismissal members and volunteers
- Resignation and replacement of directors
Facilities and Property Policies
- Building use, rentals, access, maintenance, keys, off
- Equipment tables, chairs etc.
- Computer access, safeguards, storage, record retention
- Property use, rental, maintenance
- Insurance type of coverage, review schedule
While developing policies and procedures for volunteer organizations
is not easy, having transparent and defendable policies and procedures
are an excellent guide to help organizations make good decisions.
Policy and Procedure Template
Section: Financial Policies
Page: 1 of 13
Policy number: 3.1
Policy: State the policy.
1.1 List the procedures to carry out the policy.
Guidelines for Template:
- Section: refers to heading in main index
- Subject: the topic considered
- Page: page number including the total pages in section
- Date: approval date of the information by the Board of Directors
- Footer: at bottom of each page a line that denotes what the
document is and the organization to which it belongs
Board Policy and Procedures Manual
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