Managing volunteers

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Managing volunteers

National Occupational Standards for Managing volunteers set out the skills that staff and volunteers who manage volunteers in their organisation should have, as well as what they should know and understand, in order to do their job well.

The standards have been written by a group of people who have direct experience of managing volunteers in charities, social enterprises, community and voluntary sector organisations. Read about how you can use the National Occupational Standards for Managing volunteers or download the standards from this page.

National Occupational Standards for Managing volunteers

Download the full National Occupational Standards for Managing volunteers(.PDF, 122Kb).

Pocket-sized version

We have also published a pocket-sized booklet version of the National Occupational Standards, which you can download here: Managing Volunteers: Booklet version (.PDF, 179Kb). The booklet version is also available in print. Email us if you would like a copy.

Qualifications for volunteer managers based on Standards

One way that National Occupational Standards can be used is to provide a nationally recognised framework for training and qualifications.

Using National Occupational Standards is a way of making sure that training and qualifications are based on what employers agree are the skills and knowledge that people need to do a particular job well. So National Occupational Standards-based training is practical and directly relevant to the job.

They can be used to inform, structure and develop unaccredited and accredited training, including that provided by professional bodies and Higher Education Institutions.

We encourage providers of training and qualifications for the management of volunteers to benchmark their courses to the standards and to tell us so that we can post the information on this website, on the listing national standards-based training and qualifications.

Qualification frameworks for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and their equivalent in Scotland, Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), have been developed at three levels for managers of volunteers.

Level 3 is for those who directly manage volunteers on a day-to-day basis.

Level 4 is targeted at those with overall responsibility for recruiting, managing and developing volunteers in their organisation or their part of the organisation.

Level 5 focuses on developing and implementing the strategy for involving volunteers in their organisation’s work.

We are currently working to encourage Awarding Bodies to develop and deliver these qualifications.

We will also investigate demand for smaller qualifications to meet the needs of workers for whom the management of volunteers is not a core role. We will, of course, take account of existing qualifications in the market.

Resources for volunteer managers

National Occupational Standards don’t describe ‘how’ you should manage volunteers. Instead they set out ‘what’ you need to do and the things you need to know and understand.

Other voluntary sector organisations provide guides and information on how you should manage volunteers successfully.

Resources for people who manage volunteers

The following publications, websites and course provide advice to campaigners in charities, social enterprises, community and voluntary organisations on how to run a successful campaign. If you have suggestions for other resources we should publish on this page contact website editor.

Volunteering organisations

The national volunteering infrastructure organisations maintain websites with a wealth of downloadable and purchasable resources and signpost to local infrastructure agencies where appropriate. There are variations in aspects of legislation and practice in each nation.


Volunteering England

Volunteering England provides publications, research, free information sheets and a free information helpline. The website also signposts contact details for the network of local Volunteer Centres that provide local training and support.

Northern Ireland

Volunteer Now

The Agency provides a comprehensive suite of training and information including free information sheets on all issues of volunteer management.


Volunteer Development Scotland

Volunteer Development Scotland disseminates good practice in volunteer management, and stimulates dialogue around volunteer development in Scotland as well as providing free information sheets.



WCVA provides information, advice and training on volunteering and volunteering management, and signposts to the network of local volunteer bureaux in Wales.


Alphabetical round up of websites providing access to relevant resources and training.

AM Training

Offers a Volunteer Management Professional Training programme linked to National Occupational Standards

Directory of Social Change

Provides publications and training

Energize Inc.

US based resource site from author Susan J Ellis

Community Service Volunteers

Community Service Volunteers runs a programme for training volunteer managers including publications and resources and hosts the Institute for Advanced Volunteer Management (IAVM)

Institute for Volunteering Research

Commissions and disseminates research on different aspects of volunteering

Investing in Volunteers

Quality standard for volunteer-involving organisations based on ten indicators of good practice