Management and support of spontaneous volunteers

Training Materials
Points of Light Institute & CNCS (2011). Managing Spontaneous Volunteers in Times of Disaster (eCourse). Available at:
This course contains not only a helpful handbook for participants (future managers of spontaneous volunteers), but also a handbook for the Trainer.
  • Participant Materials
  • Trainer Guide
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Volunteer Reception Centers "Go Kit" Forms & Instructions
Western Region Homeland Security (2016). Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteers Training Series. Available at:
Guidelines and Handbooks spontaneous volunteers
(additional materials for trainers and crisis managers)
Points of Light Foundation, NVOAD, and UPS Foundation (2005). Managing Spontaneous Volunteers in Times of Disaster: The Synergy of Structure and Good Intentions. Available at:
With the aim to overcome the paradoxon of “people’s willingness to volunteer versus the system’s capacity to utilize them effectively” (Points of Light Foundation, NVOAD, and UPS Foundation, 2005, p. 2) this handbook points out certain principles and values by which SVs should be managed. Furthermore and special for this handbook is that it includes a very detailed concept of managing unaffiliated volunteers during all phases of emergency management: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.
Volunteer Florida (2002). Unaffiliated Volunteers in Response and Recovery. Available at:
Although newer handbooks are often more comprehensive, most of them refer to this handbook because it is known as one of the first handbooks for the management of SUVs and builds the basis on which all other handbooks are written on. Special for this handbook are very concrete examples of benefits and challenges as well as their possible solutions with SUVs chosen out of already happened disasters.
Western Region Homeland Security (2016). Spontaneous Volunteer Management System Plan Template. Available at:
“The Spontaneous and Unaffiliated Volunteer Management System Guide (SOG) provides guidance to the Incident Commander (IC) and Volunteer Managers for safe, efficient and scalable volunteer management. The SOG includes communication with community members and voluntary organizations; volunteer reception, screening and training; matching and deployment; and volunteer retention during response and recovery” (Western Region Homeland Security, 2016, p.1).
Australian Government (2010). Spontaneous Volunteer Management Resource Kit: Helping to Manage Spontaneous Volunteers in Emergencies. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. Available at:
“The Spontaneous volunteer management resource kit was developed in support of a project, overseen by the Australian Red Cross and funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, to develop a framework for managing spontaneous volunteers in an emergency. […] The kit offers a range of resources to help support jurisdictions, municipalities and organisations to manage potential spontaneous volunteers during emergencies. […]
The resource kit includes:
  • project report
  • draft framework
  • draft communication strategy
  • draft implementation plan
  • research report into the motivations and expectations of spontaneous volunteers
  • CD with literature reviews on spontaneous volunteering and emergent organizations/ management tools, including video case studies on volunteering in an emergency/ generic forms for use in an emergency and suggestions for briefing and debriefing volunteers” (Australian Government, 2010, p. 1).
Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development (Canada) & Public Health Agency of Canada (2007). MAINTAINING THE PASSION – Sustaining the Emergency Response Episodic Volunteer. Available at:
This handbook distinguishes between unaffiliated, affiliated volunteers and interims, putting them together as a group of episodic volunteers. While looking at the benefits and challenges of engaging episodic volunteers it gets clear that not all three subgroups can be managed the same.
Federal Emergency Management Agency &Emergency Management Institute (n.k.). Management of Spontaneous Volunteers in Disasters. Student Manual. Available at:
This manual “introduces to skills and planning considerations that are required to manage large numbers of people who are not affiliated with an experienced relief organization, but who want to help in disasters” (Federal Emergency Management Agency & Emergency Management Institute, n.k., p. SM Intro.1). It focuses on:
  • Keys for managing large numbers of spontaneous volunteers
  • Benefits and Challenges which comes with the surge of spontaneous volunteers
  • Spontaneous Volunteer Management Plan
  • Volunteer Reception Centre (VRC)
  • Transition on recovery