Sample Volunteer Agreement and Code of Conduct

The following volunteer agreement was provided to volunteers of the Vritual Volunteering Project (currently inactive). It is presented here as a model to assist those agencies interested in developing an agreement for their volunteers:

Virtual Volunteering Project Volunteer Agreement

by Jayne Cravens, former Virtual Volunteering Project Manager

These are our detailed policies regarding volunteers at our agency; most of these are not included in your online orientation. These policies cover the definition of a volunteer, confidentiality, copyright issues, when additional screening is necessary, inappropriate communications, when volunteers can represent the Virtual Volunteering Project, online safety, ending your role as a volunteer with the Project and dismissal of a volunteer.

Purpose of Volunteer Policies

These policies are written to provide overall guidance and direction to staff and volunteers engaged in volunteer involvement and management efforts. These policies do not constitute, either implicitly or explicitly, a binding contractual or personnel agreement. Our agency reserves the exclusive right to change any of these policies at any time and to expect adherence to the changed policy. Changes to or exceptions from these policies may only be granted by the Volunteer Program Manager, and must be obtained in advance and in writing. Areas not specifically covered by these policies shall be determined by the Volunteer Program Manager.

Definition of 'Volunteer'

A "volunteer" is anyone who, without compensation or expectation of compensation beyond reimbursement, performs a task at the direction of and on behalf of the agency. A "volunteer" must be officially accepted and enrolled by the agency prior to performance of the task. Unless specifically stated, volunteers shall not be considered as "employees" of the agency.

"Mandatory" Service

Our agency also accepts as volunteers those participating in student community service activities, student intern projects, alternative sentencing or diversion programs, corporate volunteer programs, and other volunteer referral programs. In each of these cases, however, a written agreement must be in effect with the organization, school, or program from whom the special case volunteers originate and this agreement must identify responsibility for management and care of the volunteers. This agreement must be reached in writing before the volunteer begins an online assignment, and it is the responsibility of the volunteer to secure this agreement with the appropriate organization. Remember: not every program recognizes virtual volunteering as meeting mandatory community service obligations. The Project Manager is happy to speak with supervisors by phone to explain our program and answer any questions.

Volunteers Under 18

If you are under 18, please let at least one of your parents know you are going to volunteer with this Project. We strongly suggest that you give your parents the URL of the Virtual Volunteering Project so they can read through the materials themselves, particularly our Handbook for Online Volunteers, and invite them to subscribe to our lists as well (see above). We also suggest you copy one or both of your parents on your weekly reports to the Project when engaged in an assignment for us, and we will be happy to do the same, per your request. Your parents are invited to call or e-mail the Virtual Volunteering Project Manager, Jayne Cravens, with any questions or comments about our program.

Service at the Discretion of the Agency

Our agency accepts the service of all volunteers with the understanding that such service is at the sole discretion of the agency. Volunteers agree that the agency may at any time, for whatever reason, decide to terminate the volunteer's relationship with the agency.

The volunteer may at any time, for whatever reason, decide to sever the volunteer's relationship with the agency. Notice of such a decision should be communicated as soon as possible to the volunteer¹s supervisor.

Representing the Virtual Volunteering Project

Volunteers are asked to not contact organizations or individuals on behalf of the Virtual Volunteering Project unless they are given express written directions to do so by the Project Manager. Prior to any action or statement which might significantly affect or obligate the agency, volunteers should seek prior consultation and approval from appropriate staff. These actions may include, but are not limited to, public statements to the press, coalition or lobbying efforts with other organizations, or any agreements involving contractual or other financial obligations. Volunteers are authorized to act as representatives of the agency as specifically indicated within their job descriptions and only to the extent of such written specifications.


Volunteers are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all proprietary or privileged information to which they are exposed while serving as a volunteer, whether this information involves a single staff, volunteer, client, or other person or involves overall agency business. Failure to maintain confidentiality may result in termination of the volunteer's relationship with the agency or other corrective action.

Screening/Reference Checks

For some tasks, volunteers must submit samples of work and professional references. If such is required, it will be outlined in the task description.

Copyright/Ownership Issues

<Name of volunteer> hereby grants non-exclusive permission to <name of nonprofit> for use of any materials produced for the Virtual Volunteering Project, including graphics materials, web page designs, narratives, research, compilations, instructional texts, etc., becomes the property of the Virtual Volunteering Project upon submission. Volunteers will receive credit on the Virtual Volunteering Project Web site for these and other contributions.

Online Orientation

Volunteers are expected to follow all directions provided to them in the online orientation, received via e-mail after their submission of a completed volunteer application. This includes, but is not limited to, subscribing to the volunteer list serve and Virtual Verve (the program updates list), and following the reporting guidelines outlined in the orientation. By replying to this orientation with a request for an assignment, the volunteer is agreeing to both the policies set forth in this orientation email and the policies outlined in this volunteer handbook.

Contacting Other Volunteers

Occassionally, volunteers will need to contact other volunteers with regard to their activities with the Virtual Volunteering Project. We expect all such communications among volunteers to follow general netiquette guidelines. Other than email addresses, the Virtual Volunteering Project Manager will not share contact information about a volunteer with another volunteer without the express consent of all parties involved. We encourage volunteers to use common sense when communicating with other volunteers -- or anyone -- online. We suggest your following this rule: don't reveal anything about yourself online to someone that you would not feel comfortable revealing to a stranger you met on the street.

Inappropriate Communications

If at any point you receive any e-mail that you feel is inappropriate, for any reason, and you believe you have received it in conjunction with your involvement with the Virtual Volunteering Project, please forward the email and other details about the communication to the Virtual Volunteering Project Manager.

Online Safety

The safety of our volunteers is important to us. To that end, the Project will not release a volunteer's phone number, age or other personal information to anyone outside of our organization or to other volunteers without that volunteer's written permission to do so. We do list volunteers who have completed assignments for us, along with the city where they reside and their e-mail address, on a page on our Web site. We are happy to remove any or all of this information for a particular volunteer per that person's request. Please note that we do not make your e-mail address a "live link" on this page -- this is to prevent spambots from harveting your address to send you mass unsolicited junk e-mail advertisements.

Anti-Virus Software

The nature of online volunteering means a lot of contact between computers -- e-mails, attachments, transfers of files, etc. Because of this interaction, volunteers and organizations can be at risk for transmitting computer viruses between each other. All online volunteers should have anti-virus software installed on any computer they use in conjunction with the Virtual Volunteering Project, and we expect you to update this software regularly. Likewise, the Virtual Volunteering Project has anti-virus software on its computer systems, and updates this software at least quarterly. Computer virus protection for your own computer is your responsibility. The Handbook for Online Volunteers also offers information and resources for preventing and dealing with computer viruses.

Ending Your Volunteer Role

You can cease volunteering with the Project upon the completion of any volunteer assignment, or when you are not currently engaged in an assignment. You may stay subscribed to the e-mail lists as long as you wish, regardless of your volunteering status with the Virtual Volunteering Project. Unsubscribing to the VVProjectVols list, however, means you are no longer volunteering with our Project; if you unsubscribe, please send us an e-mail to let us know that you will no longer be volunteering with us and why.

Dismissal of a Volunteer

Volunteers who do not adhere to the rules and procedures of the agency or who fail to satisfactorily perform their volunteer assignment are subject to dismissal. No volunteer will be terminated until the volunteer has had an opportunity to discuss the reasons for possible dismissal with supervisory staff. Possible grounds for dismissal may include, but are not limited to, the following: gross misconduct or insubordination, theft of property or misuse of agency materials, abuse or mistreatment of clients, staff or other volunteers, failure to abide by agency policies and procedures, and failure to satisfactorily perform assigned duties.

Information on this page uses material from:

  • Steve McCurley, VM Systems, from his Volunteer Management Series.
  • Linda Graff, from her book By Definition: Policies for Volunteer Programs, portions of which are reprinted on