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Guidance for Recruiting, Training, Managing, and Retaining Unpaid Workers

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Effectively recruiting, training, managing, and retaining volunteers can play a crucial role in helping a nonprofit organization accomplish its goals.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofits. Organizations may rely on dedicated volunteers to help with hands-on projects and programs as well as conventional office work. Many organizations are run entirely by volunteers.

This guide provides links to guides, articles, sample documents, and other resources to help nonprofit organizations of all types effectively recruit, train, manage, and retain volunteers.

Recruiting Volunteers

Training, Managing, and Retaining Volunteers

Volunteer Handbooks

Many organizations create handbooks for volunteers that contain important information about the organization, volunteer roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, and more. Handbooks can play a crucial role in a nonprofit’s volunteer program, providing structure, helping volunteers feel appreciated, and protecting the organization.

The following web articles provide a good overview of the purpose of a volunteer handbook and what information handbooks should include:

See the Volunteer Handbooks and Manuals topic at for a large collection of sample handbooks from land trusts and other nonprofits, as well as templates that organizations can adapt for their own use.

Managing Liability and Risk

See the Volunteer Waivers and Release Forms topic at for an extensive collection of sample volunteer waivers from land trusts and other nonprofits.

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The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association produced this guide with support from the William Penn Foundation and the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.


Nothing contained in this or any other document available at is intended to be relied upon as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. The material presented is generally provided in the context of Pennsylvania law and, depending on the subject, may have more or less applicability elsewhere. There is no guarantee that it is up to date or error free.