Volunteer Management Policy

1. Introduction

The Society of Research Software Engineering (SocRSE) is a charitable organisation and our mission is to establish a research environment that recognises the vital role of software in research. We work to increase software skills across everyone in research, to promote collaboration between researchers and software experts, and to support the creation of an academic career path for Research Software Engineers.

Volunteers make a vital contribution to our mission and we seek volunteers to fulfil our aims and activities. The charity does not currently (as at March 2022) employ paid staff.  We recognise the added value that volunteers bring to our organisation and for those who use our services. 

Within SocRSE, we seek volunteers for various roles and volunteers are involved in:

  • Being a Trustee on the trustee board
  • As a trustee on the board they may be involved in these areas: 
    • Comms and Publicity
    • Finance Treasurer
    • EDIA
    • Governance
    • Membership
    • Web and Infrastructure
  • Being on an Event committee like our Annual Conference or a one off event 
  • Joining our working groups and/or special interest groups

SocRSE aims to have a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship with our volunteers; with their involvement informing and developing our work, and our work enabling individuals to learn skills and achieve personal development through their volunteering. 

The involvement of volunteers will be guided by the following principles of good practice:

  • the tasks to be performed by volunteers will be clearly defined, so that everyone is sure of their respective roles and responsibilities,
  • the organisation will comply with the Data Protection Act in the use of data held on all volunteers,
  • volunteering opportunities will complement rather than replace the work of paid staff (if applicable),
  • volunteers will be provided with regular opportunities to share ideas/concerns through an anonymous feedback system, 
  • all existing and future policies will be checked as to how they affect volunteers.
  • the society will respect that the volunteers are offering their services voluntarily and will recognise the need for holiday time and other  commitments.

2. The Purpose of this Policy

By adopting this policy SocRSE aims to: 

  • highlight and acknowledge the value of the contribution made by volunteers;
  • reflect the purpose, values, standards and strategies of the organisation in its approach to involving volunteers; 
  • recognise the respective roles, rights and responsibilities of volunteers;
  • confirm this organisation’s commitment to involving volunteers in its work;
  • establish clear principles for the involvement of volunteers; and
  • ensure the ongoing quality of both the volunteering opportunities on offer and the work carried out by our volunteers;

3. Recruitment and Selection

SocRSE will adhere to its equalities and diversity policy when recruiting and selecting volunteers.  All potential volunteers are asked to complete a volunteer’s application form for any of the above positions. For trustee board members, they are voted into position by the community before each Annual General Meeting. The board also has the right to appoint a trustee if a skills gap exists. For the conference committee and additional volunteers for the conference days itself, an open call is launched and widely publicised for a minimum of 3 weeks. Volunteers are offered a position based on their preference, previous experience and their desire to learn new skills. 

Written and detailed task descriptions exist and are updated each year by the previous volunteer. These outline time commitment, necessary skills and actual duties. Where there is specific training required this will be highlighted as part of the recruitment process and provided as part of the induction and handover process. Where there is a requirement for a Disclosure Check this will be highlighted as part of the recruitment process. 

4. Volunteer Tasks

Volunteer task descriptions are made available for all the volunteer positions ahead of the open call and can be found on the Society and/or conference website. They can be requested from the trustee board at any time by email [email protected]  

5. Support and Supervision

All volunteers will have an induction to their volunteering which will involve an overview of the relevant policies and procedures and a handover from a previous volunteer either in person or written.  

For the trustee board members, there exists a detailed induction document with weekly tasks to follow and complete. For the conference committee, a set onboarding routine is followed via online meetings and role descriptions. 

Following Induction, volunteers will have regular support and supervision meetings with a named contact to identify areas for development, or to discuss any issues. For the trustee board members, this may be the President and or Vice President and for the conference committee, this would be with the Programme Chair or the Logistics Chair. A record of these discussions may be held as part of the individual volunteer’s records. Volunteers can have access to their records at any time. 

Once onboarded, we will expect volunteers to comply with existing policies and procedures. All volunteers are covered under SocRSE Public Liability Insurance. 

Information on procedures like expenses etc, can be found in the RSE Trustee Induction document and the Operations Manual.

Where volunteers have holidays or other commitments which mean that they cannot attend their normal volunteering, they should advise their named contact to ensure that we can arrange alternative cover. If volunteers require a longer break from their volunteering, they should discuss this with their named contact. SocRSE will endeavour to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the needs of volunteers. 

6. Health and Safety and Insurance

The SocRSE Health and Safety policy can be found on the website and considers all volunteer roles. 

All volunteers are covered by our insurance, both employers and public liability.

7. The volunteers’ role in confidentiality and data protection

Confidentiality expectations

The charity owes a duty of confidentiality to the people we hold information about and is an essential principle of the services we provide to ensure that the people and organisations we work with trust us. In addition to our legal obligations regarding Data Protection, this means restricting access to information to those who ‘need to know’: this may be limited to within the

charity or in some circumstances to within a specific team.

Confidentiality is important even if a situation might seem informal or isn’t necessarily covered by the scope of Data Protection legislation. Examples of situations or information which should be considered confidential include internal correspondence like emails, committee papers and minutes, or event registration data . If you have more than one volunteer role information in

these categories should be kept confidential within an individual role. 

Volunteers may come into contact with information about people and our organisation that we need to keep confidential. Keeping information  confidential is a legal responsibility in which we all have a part to play.

How organisations collect, manage and work with people’s information is covered by the Data Protection Act, which has been subsequently strengthened by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) effective within the UK from 25 May 2018.  All volunteers have a role to play to ensure we maintain the highest standards regarding Data Protection and avoid the consequences of non-compliance.

The types of data you may come into contact with in your role are categorised as follows:

Personal information –  Name, Address, Date of Birth, Email

address, Photographs, IP address, Location, 

Sensitive personal information – Race, Religion, Political Opinion, Trade

Union Membership, Sexual Orientation, Gender identity, 

Information should only be gathered from individuals that is specifically needed for any given purpose, and those who collect the data need to ensure they have robust procedures in place to ensure it is held in a safe and secure format. See the society Personal Data and privacy Policy

8. Complaints procedure

Where a concern is highlighted – either by a volunteer or about a volunteer, this will be dealt with using the Society’s Disciplinary, Grievance and Dismissal Policy

9. Responsibility

The overall responsibility for the implementations, monitoring and review of the policy and procedures lies with the Governance Subgroup, specifically the President and Vice President.  Implementation and adherence to this policy is the responsibility of all volunteers within the organisation.

10. Annual RSE Conference

There exists a volunteer management policy specifically for the annual RSE Conference.

11. Saying thank you

The Society recognises that it is very important to tell volunteers how you will appreciate and value their contribution. We will give credit where credit is due as often as possible via the website, publicly thanking volunteers on our website and through RSE Catalyst Awards. 

12. Endings

As much as we might want our volunteers to make a long-term commitment, we understand that they will move on. The governance subgroup follow guidelines for off-boarding a trustee and the Society commits to providing references where appropriate.