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Collaboration with Volunteers

Civil society organizations are made up of individuals who come together as a voluntary basis for a common goal and have established their internal systems. However, development and enlargement of organizations expose the need for regular human resources. Human resources for CSOs should be meant to be the accumulation of members, supporters, professional employees as well as volunteers.

The concept of collaboration with volunteers should not be considered as a hierarchical employer-employee relationship like in classical management approach. It is based on mutual communication, interaction and feedback, and is carried out in a good governance approach amongst both volunteers and CSOs.

Considering that there is only one paid employee for every three civil society organizations in Turkey, the importance of volunteers for civil society organizations is revealed. However, working effectively with volunteers requires good planning of essential topics, setting out the definition of volunteering.

Members, donors and volunteers are important forces that support professional staff of CSOs. The growth in voluntary works in CSOs lead to growth in their operations. A good number of qualified volunteers enable CSOs to reach human resources which they could not have achieved with their financial capacities.

Benefitting from volunteers effectively is an important skill for CSOs. Volunteers provide support to the administration and to help accessing in-kind supports and financial resources. They also contribute to several different functions, such as promoting community engagement and participation in the society and to popularize the success and operations of the organization.


  • Working with volunteers enhances the recognition of the organization, ensures that its operations and works are acknowledged by the society,
  • Volunteers act as a bridge between CSOs and society,
  • Volunteers contribute to increase effectiveness of CSOs operations,
  • CSOs implement projects/programmes with limited budgets, human resources and in other difficult circumstances. The support of volunteers enables CSO to implement their activities easier and in a more effective way.
  • The support of volunteers provides motivation for the staff in CSO,
  • Voluntary participation of experts, individuals who are well educated or people who are experienced in project management contribute to the positive impact on the efficiency, and quality of work of CSOs.

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Enjoyment and satisfaction: The volunteers gain joy and moral fulfillment along with life experience.

Self-confidence: Self-assertion, self-actualization and feeling useful while being a part of an activity lead to self confidence.

Teamwork skills development: With or without any job experience, voluntary work improves such skills like job sharing and collaborative success. Additionally, leadership skills will also improve.

Station and social status, new friends and milieu: The new social environment, acquired through voluntary activities, is to contribute positively to individuals' social lives. 

New areas of interest: The CSOs working areas in which the volunteers are involved can enable them to get into new fields and, even new job opportunities might be available

In Turkey, there is neither a specific law and legislation for regulating volunteering and volunteer work nor regulating the relations between NGOs and volunteers.

Planning generally plays an important role in collaboration with volunteers. An effective collaboration with volunteers in CSOs enables organizations to work with them in a long-term and mutually beneficial way. Collaboration can transform to a sustainable volunteering programme by strategic planning. At the planning phase, following topics are advised to be considered;

  • Assess the organization's readiness to work with volunteers. Volunteer Program Assessment, developed by Betty Stallings can be utilized to find out the readiness of the organization for engaging volunteers.
  • Goals of Volunteer Programme. Volunteering is a crucial resource and strategy for implementing the mission of the organization. So, measurable and achievable goals should be set for the impact that volunteers will create. Besides, resources that may be required for volunteers (table, chair, computer, etc.) should also be taken into consideration.
  • Staffing for Collaboration with Volunteers. Success in collaboration is directly linked to effective coordination. One of the important elements of effective collaboration is to have a "volunteer coordinator" (professional or volunteer based, whose job description is related to the coordination of the volunteer task force).

A successful volunteer coordinator must have knowledge and experience on;

  • Human Resources Management,
  • Public relations/marketing,
  • Communication,
  • Resource development,
  • Growth of Society
  • Education, training and development.

The key is to encourage people who have required skills for devoting their time and energy to an organization.

Moreover, benefits to be achieved by volunteers should be identified and those need to be conveyed to them in a structured way. For example, voluntary work would be an opportunity to get to know people from a different background and culture? Or build a durable relationship with a child? Or gaining updated information about communication? Etc.

CSOs that are successfully engaged with well-matched volunteers:

  • are clear about the skills and background that is needed,
  • to engage the entire staff, board and community in collaboration efforts,
  • to use different means to outreach prospective volunteers such as on-line listings, newsletters, one-on-one contact, etc
  • The "Volunteer Recruitment Toolkit"  will help to identify and attract volunteers as target audience.

Where the relevant call for proposals allows for the work performed by volunteers to be considered as acceptable co-financing, such co-financing must be considered as eligible personnel costs in accordance with articles 181, 186 and 190 FR, and must take the form of unit costs.

These unit costs will be fixed by the contracting authority and provided in the call for proposal. The value of the volunteers' work may comprise up to 50% of the co-financing, the latter corresponding to the part not financed by the EU contribution.

This type of costs must be presented separately from other eligible costs in the estimated budget. The value of the volunteer's work must always be excluded from the calculation of indirect costs. Any eligible costs incurred by the beneficiary linked to the work of the volunteer, for example travel and accommodation, may be claimed separately as eligible costs.

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