Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Would you pay volunteers' expenses?

I came across this great blog the other day from guest blogger Mel White on Rob Jackson's blog.

The blog covers the issue of volunteer expenses.  As someone who manages a volunteer scheme I fully endorse organisations covering volunteers travel expenses (where ever possible).  In most cases we try to find a volunteer demographically close to the organisation in order to reduce any travel costs.  As the article points out, by not offering to covering expenses it is financially discriminating against those who are not able to cover their travel costs but are more than willing to give up their time for great causes.  

Volunteers should at least be given the option to claim expenses.  Many may not, but to not have the option will reduce the number of people taking up voluntary positions.

To read the fill blog please click here

Pro Bono O.R. does ask the organisations to cover volunteers expenses and this is made clear right from the outset.  Organisations wishing to take up the offer of Pro Bono O.R. are required to complete and sign a registration form which has a clause in it relating to expenses.  If volunteers do want to claim expenses these are agreed between the volunteer and the organisation before the project commences to ensure the organisations has the necessary funds.  We have found all the organisations we have worked with have been happy to do this and in cases where the organisation's budget is minimal we have specified that the volunteer needs to be local.

Having had this debate with several people I am aware that there are some organisations who choose not to pay expenses and others that simply can't afford to.   One person I spoke with said they volunteered for two charities, the first one did not pay expenses because they thought the volunteers' "passion for their cause was enough", the second one did.  The volunteer pointed out that "the two organisations are very different and it would be unreasonable for the first one to dip into its funds to compensate its hundreds of volunteers".

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject and what you do if you have volunteers.

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