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Volunteer Agreement Template: How to Design a Comprehensive Contract

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If your nonprofit organization depends on volunteers, it has to consider a variety of nuances. Streamlining the recruitment and onboarding process is key to gaining access to the right specialists who are dedicated to your cause. While volunteering isn't a paid job, it's still an official relationship between an individual and an organization.

That's where volunteer agreements come in. Designing a high-quality agreement can help you avoid misunderstandings, legalize your relationship, and make sure that volunteers know what you expect from them.

To create a viable contract, you can take advantage of a variety of volunteer agreement templates. Let's take a closer look at what goes into the template volunteer agreement and the things you may need to add.

What Is a Volunteer Agreement?

A volunteer agreement is a contract between a volunteer-to-be and an organization. This contract includes all terms and conditions of the volunteering process within a particular organization.

Besides basic information about each party, this agreement should include the range of volunteers' responsibilities, the organization's liabilities, and the duration of the official relationship.

The goal of this contract is to make sure that both the volunteer and the organization are on the same page. This can prevent misunderstandings and ensure volunteering efficiency. If something goes wrong during the collaboration term, both parties can use the agreement to enforce their rights.

When drafted correctly, a volunteer agreement is a legally binding contract between an organization and an individual who plans to volunteer for this organization.

Essential Elements of a Volunteer Agreement

While it's fairly easy to find a free volunteer agreement template online, these samples usually contain basic information. Each organization needs to take a closer look at its needs and requirements to turn a volunteer agreement form template into an effective contract.

Confidentiality Clause

If volunteers can gain access to your organization's confidential information, you need to protect yourself by adding a confidentiality clause to the contract. For non-profits, confidential information may mean customer details, employee data, donor information, and even trade secrets.

Depending on the industry you work in, you may need to comply with information security guidelines (for example, HIPAA). All of that requires volunteers to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Intellectual Property

When volunteers take on responsibilities within the organization, they often generate knowledge. This knowledge can include training methods, a special approach to existing clients, customer pain point information, and more.

All of this data is the intellectual property of your company. When a volunteer leaves, they can't take such information with them, or worse, share it with the competition.

To keep the intellectual property within the organization, it's vital to include the clause about intellectual property rights in the agreement.

Non-Employee Status

To avoid issues with employment legislation and the IRS, you need to mention that volunteers aren't employees. Be clear that the company isn't responsible for paying taxes, providing benefits, or paying unemployment or workers' compensation.

For example, a volunteer agreement should give volunteers a straightforward understanding of their rights while working for your organization.  I.e., if they get hurt when performing their duties, worker's comp insurance can't cover them.

Alternatively, volunteers can sign a Volunteer Liability Waiver.

Sample Volunteer Agreement Template

This sample volunteer service agreement template can help you get started. Keep in mind that the more information you add to the contract, the easier it is to establish an effective relationship with your volunteers.

  • Details of both parties - volunteer and organization, including emergency contacts.
  • Services - a full list of services the volunteer is expected to provide.
  • Rules and guidelines – a set of rules that govern volunteers' responsibilities within the organization. You can include elements from the Code of Ethics.
  • Wages - a statement that the work is fully voluntary and no wages are expected.
  • Compensation – a list of benefits that volunteer receives in exchange for their services, for example, experience.
  • Supervision – the name of the supervisor a volunteer reports to.
  • Background checks and drug testing – if any are required for your organization, make sure to mention them in the contract.
  • Employment – a statement that emphasizes that this isn't an employment contract.
  • Confidentiality – this part enforces the safety of the organization's confidential information (alternatively, you can provide a separate confidentiality agreement or an NDA agreement).
  • Jurisdiction – which court to petition in case legal issues arise.
  • Term and termination – how long the agreement is valid for and the possibility of early termination.

Whether you use a local church volunteer agreement template or take advantage of an online volunteer confidentiality agreement template, remember that transparency is key. Making the contract accessible and easy to understand can help you avoid volunteer issues in the future.

Pros and Cons of Using a Volunteer Agreement  

Creating and signing a volunteer agreement comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your organization's needs, you may decide that agreement isn't the right way to go. Here are a few pros and cons to help you make a decision:


  • You create a legal document that can be used in case any disputes arise.
  • You clearly define the relationship between the volunteer and the organizations
  • You make sure that the volunteer understands all the expectations.
  • You encourage a transparent relationship between your organization and a volunteer.


  • The volunteer agreement isn't an employment contract so its use is limited.
  • If you leave something out of the agreement, you may have a hard time implementing new volunteer responsibilities.

Keep in mind that the volunteer agreement is legally binding only if volunteers receive something in return for their services. If they do, you need to list these benefits in the contract.

While volunteers don't receive money for their work, they can get experience and training. These elements are sufficient to turn a simple list of responsibilities into a legally-binding document.  

Leveraging Volunteer Agreement Templates

Volunteer agreement templates can be useful for giving you an idea of how to proceed with a volunteer contact. It's important to understand that while volunteer agreements aren't necessary for all industries, they can be a valuable tool for simplifying the relationship between you and your volunteers.

Take the time to prepare a detailed contract that covers as many details as possible. This way you can minimize misunderstandings and arguments while ensuring a smooth volunteering process.

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