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Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities

Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a volunteer.

As a volunteer, you have the right to:

  • Receive accurate information about the agency
  • Receive a clear, comprehensive job description
  • Be carefully interviewed and appropriately assigned
  • Receive training
  • Do meaningful and satisfying work
  • Be seen as belonging, through inclusion at meetings, social functions, etc.
  • Be seen as a person and to be supported in your role
  • Be safe on the job
  • Have choices and feel comfortable about saying "no"
  • Not be exploited
  • Be consulted on matters that directly or indirectly affect you and your work
  • Receive feedback on your work
  • Receive recognition for your contribution
  • Have your personal information be kept confidential
  • Be trusted with confidential information if it is necessary in order to do your job

As a volunteer, you are expected to:

  • Be reliable and punctual
  • Be trustworthy
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Respect the rights of people you work with
  • Have a non-judgmental approach
  • Carry out the specified job description
  • Give feedback (i.e. participate in evaluations when asked)
  • Be accountable and accept feedback
  • Be committed to the program
  • Avoid overextending yourself
  • Acknowledge decisions made by the staff or the organization
  • Address areas of conflict with the appropriate staff member or volunteer coordinator
  • Undertake training
  • Ask for support when it is needed
  • Stay safe on the job; for example, make sure that you are never alone with a client

Adapted from "Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities" from the PAVE Volunteer Management Training Kit, and "Sample Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities" from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

Liability Protection for Volunteers

Find out about liability and ways to protect yourself when you volunteer for UCSD-sponsored projects, activities, and events.

About volunteering at UCSD

  • All volunteers everywhere run the risk of physical, emotional, and mental injury, as well as inflicting injuries on others.
  • Before you participate in an activity that puts you or others at risk, you may be asked to sign a waiver, acknowledging that risks are involved in the activity and agreeing not to hold the institution or agency responsible.
  • If you're asked to sign a waiver, you can contact Student Legal Services, (858) 534-4374, if you need help understanding it.

Volunteer Protection Act

In addition to signing a waiver, you are also protected under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997. This law protects volunteers in these circumstances:

  • The volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or governmental entity at the time of the act or omission.
  • If appropriate or required, the volunteer was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities for the activities or practice in the state in which the harm occurred, where the activities were or practice was undertaken within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or governmental entity.
  • The harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.
  • The harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the state requires the operator or the owner of the vehicle, craft, or vessel to either (A) possess an operator's license or (B) maintain insurance.

Read more

See a more detailed list of coverage by the Volunteer Protection Act.