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Resolving issues while volunteering

Volunteering in Cape Town

Unfortunately disputes sometimes occur between a volunteer and others at the organisation where they volunteer.

This can be greatly upsetting for all concerned.  A volunteer may feel that their commitment to the organisation and its cause has been rendered worthless.  They may also be concerned for their reputation within the organisation or the broader community.

Resolving disputes

There is no equivalent to ‘fair work’ regulations for volunteers and in most cases no external body can intervene in disputes among volunteers or between volunteers and organisations.

Your first step should therefore be to consider how you’d like to resolve the issue.  Do you wish to continue in your volunteer role or in a different role for the same organisation?  Is this conflict affecting your relationships with other people, either inside or outside the organisation?

For some people walking away is a sad option, but the least taxing emotionally and practically.

Internal policies

If you decide to pursue the matter, refer to your organisation’s policies and procedures for grievances or conflict.

If a policy doesn’t exist or isn’t made available, think of who in the organisation you can approach for help to work through the issue.  For example:

  • your supervisor

  • the manager of volunteers

  • the head of the program, area or department

  • a member of the committee of management

Don’t be afraid to raise the matter with someone senior if need be – satisfied, happy volunteers help not-for-profit achieve their mission in the community and should concern all senior officers of an organisation.

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