This is Joanne O’Brien from CRH Law talking to you today about the changing nature of volunteering and not for profit organisations.
I think it’s fair to say that everybody understands that volunteering is unpaid, non-compulsory work, but the reasons that we volunteer and the motivations behind volunteering has changed dramatically in recent years. What we see now is, instead of people becoming involved in community organisations just because it’s the right thing to do or it feels good, that there is real purpose behind their decision to take a volunteering position.
For many young people, it’s a way to obtain experience. It’s a lot easier to get a job if you’ve got some experience on your CV, even if that experience is in the form of volunteering. There’s a larger, older population of retirees who are looking for a way to continue to feel valued and to have meaning in their life and make a continued contribution to the community.
There’s also been a growth of corporate volunteering programs, where larger corporate organisations have structured programs and require their employees to contribute to the community through volunteering. Of course, this can create a number of difficulties for not for profit organisations in trying to manage their volunteer workforce.
It’s essential that organisations understand three things. Firstly, the obligations, including the legal obligations that they owe to their volunteers, the management risks that can be associated with managing the tensions between volunteers and employees, and also the cost that come with volunteers. Even though you’re not paying them for their time, there’s still cost involved in managing them, obtaining insurances and fulfilling the obligations such as your work, health, and safety obligations.
We can help you understand the extent of these obligations and provide you with advice about risk management strategies.