Volunteers can help enhance an entity's performance

 A community volunteer program allows a public entity to utilize the talents, skills, and knowledge of volunteers to supplement the efforts of staff. Efforts to engage the community in local government operations will help to educate the public and gain a better understanding of the locality’s programs.

Statistics indicate that volunteers can significantly enhance, expand and upgrade both new and existing services. With appropriate recruitment, screening, training, and supervision, volunteers can perform almost any task effectively and responsibly.

A key benefit of a volunteer program is taking advantage of the tremendous reserve of knowledge, talent and skill within the community by creating volunteer assignments which meet the needs of both the volunteers and departments.

Volunteer benefits and advantages

Volunteering can be extremely rewarding and beneficial.  One can fulfill community service requirements, increase social contact, gain knowledge of the locality, and most importantly have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to improve the overall quality of life in the community. 

Benefits to volunteers:

  1. Performing work of value to the community
  2. Having a chance to learn more about local government and the community
  3. Staying active in the community – meeting new people and networking with others
  4. Fulfilling a sense of responsibility and finding new and gratifying ways to fill free time
  5. Updating work experience – renewing and achieving new skills
  6. Adding important job references to enhance resume development
  7. Contributing knowledge, skills, interests and enthusiasm

Volunteer risk management/Safety guidelines

Volunteers must:

  • Adhere to the rules, regulations and policies set forth in the volunteer program as well as the rules, regulations, and laws of state and federal governments;
  • Participate and attend orientation and training sessions as provided;
  • Treat the public and fellow workers honestly and politely at all times;
  • Consult with the site supervisor before assuming any new responsibilities;
  • Protect confidential information and exercise good judgment, remembering that you are seen as a representative of the locality;
  • Immediately report all accidents and/or incidents to their site supervisor. Any related injury, regardless of severity, must be reported;
  • Sign an assumption of risk form;
  • Attend orientation comprised of risk preparedness and safety information;
  • Receive on-the-job training for their specific assignments, including safety aspects; and
  • Report any accident or injury immediately to the site supervisor.

Additionally, should use of personal protection equipment (PPE) be required for the volunteer position, the supervising department must provide the appropriate equipment. Departments will need to train volunteers on the use of equipment prior to the start of an assignment.

Motor vehicle records will be reviewed and volunteers must meet the same standards as employee drivers of the entity.  Only volunteers with a valid operator’s license will be permitted to operate or drive entity vehicles and other equipment.

Volunteers who have been assigned driving duties must receive the same driver training as regular employee/drivers.  Volunteers must not perform assignments requiring a license or special certification unless they have such credentials for the task assigned.

Employer responsibilities to volunteers

  1. Provide an on-site supervisor who will be responsible for training and supervision of volunteers assigned to his/her worksite or crew.   Treat the volunteer as a respected member of the team.
  2. Supervisors should be prepared for the volunteer to work at his /her worksite.  This includes providing proper supervision, supplies and workspace as well as proper briefing on procedures.
  3. An on-site safety assessment should be made to identify hazards and determine the appropriate training and PPE for the job. Training on the assignment should prepare the volunteer for a successful service experience.
  4. Keep volunteers informed of any changes in policies or procedures including procedures for expense reimbursements.


Volunteers have the same liabilities and immunities as regular employees and should be protected from possible financial risk as a result of their activities as long as he/she works within the scope of volunteer assignments.

Coverage would apply to civil claims that may be filed against a volunteer while performing official duties on behalf of the entity and while operating under the supervision and direction of an entity employee.

The entity’s insurance program should provide automobile liability coverage for volunteers who are operating entity-owned vehicles for conducting official business, provided they have been duly authorized. Volunteers must have successfully completed a defensive driving course approved by risk management, provide a transcript of their current driving record, and comply with all provisions of the entity’s policies covering the operation of motor vehicles.

Volunteers are not normally covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Should a volunteer be injured while performing duties on behalf of the entity, insurance would be available but with limited medical benefit to the injured party, and would only apply after all other insurance from the injured party is exhausted.

VMLIP offers more than just coverage.  We are partners in risk management. How does your insurer stack up?  Having all lines of coverage with VMLIP ensures that your organization is receiving comprehensive coverage and a wide variety of value-added services tailored to Virginia’s local governmental entities.  Call for a quote today: (800) 963-6800.  For more information on VMLIP visit: www.vrsa.us or follow us on Facebook.

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