Volunteer Scotland Charter

A Charter for Involving and Engaging Volunteers

This Charter sets out the key principles on which volunteering is organised and how good relations between paid staff and volunteers are built.

Any organisation that involves volunteers and promotes their volunteering opportunities through Volunteer Scotland should agree to the Charter Principles laid out on this page. Where appropriate a suitable rationale should be provided for why one or more principles do not apply.

This Charter recognises that voluntary action is founded on mutuality and reciprocity, leading to positive changes in the workplace and community. This Charter demonstrates the value and importance we place on voluntary activity and the time, skills and commitment given by volunteers.

Volunteering plays an essential role in the economic and social fabric of the nation. It is estimated that some 1.2 million people volunteer each year in Scotland, contributing around £2bn to the economy. Volunteering helps build social capital and community cohesion and plays an important role in supporting the delivery of key public services. Volunteering is also good for the volunteer: it helps improve health and wellbeing and provides opportunities for individuals to acquire skills and knowledge that can enhance career development or employment prospects.


Volunteer Scotland acknowledges that on the whole, relations between paid staff and volunteers are harmonious and mutually rewarding. They can, however, be enhanced by good procedures, clarity of respective roles, mutual trust and support. Good volunteering doesn’t just happen, it is a managed process.

This Charter sets out the key principles to help underpin good relations in the volunteering environment.  These principles should be used as a guide by organisations to develop more detailed policies and procedures that reflect local needs and circumstances.

Paid work is any activity that is undertaken at the direction of an employer and is financially compensable.


Volunteering is freely undertaken and not for financial gain; it involves the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and the community.


Charter Principles:

  • All volunteering is undertaken by choice, and all individuals should have the right to volunteer, or indeed not to volunteer.
  • While volunteers should not normally receive or expect financial rewards for their activities, they should be reimbursed for any expenses incurred in carrying out their role.
  • The involvement of volunteers should complement and supplement the work of paid staff, and should not be used to displace paid staff or undercut their pay and conditions of service.
  • Volunteers should not carry out roles formerly carried out by paid staff or hide the effects that non-filling of vacancies or cuts in services has on service delivery.
  • The added value of volunteers should be highlighted as part of commissioning or grant-making process but their involvement should not be used to reduce contract costs.
  • Effective structures should be put in place to support and develop volunteers and the activities they undertake, and these should be fully considered and costed when services are planned and developed.
  • Volunteers and paid staff should be provided with opportunities to contribute to the development and monitoring of volunteering policies and procedures.
  • Volunteers, like paid staff, should be able to carry out their duties in safe, secure and healthy environments that are free from harassment, intimidation, bullying, violence and discrimination.
  • All paid workers and volunteers should have access to appropriate training and development.
  • There should be consistent policies and procedures for the resolution of any problems between organisations and volunteers or between paid staff and volunteers.
  • In the interests of harmonious relations between volunteers and paid staff, volunteers should not be used to undertake the work of paid staff during industrial disputes.