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Through careful research and interviews with a variety of food justice organizations in Seattle, this toolkit was born to help organizers at food nonprofits proactively tackle common pain points with volunteer interactions, including communication issues, value misalignment, microaggressions, and any other incidents that can cause unintentional harm. We recognize that while volunteers come into an organization with best intentions, they have varying levels of experience working with different populations. Our goal is to create a more seamless experience for onboarding and on-the-job interactions to benefit volunteers, the organization, and their clients. While the toolkit was initially built with local food-based nonprofits in mind, it's relevant for any organization with client-facing volunteers. 

These resources are organized into three main categories:


Getting Started: High-level structures for training and managing your volunteers

Teaching Values: Resources to help instill your organization's values in your volunteers

Building Community: Resources to build and strengthen connections within your community


We developed the tools in this kit based on a timeline of the the volunteer experience at various organizations. We spoke with volunteers and their managers to understand the different stages a volunteer will go through, starting with first deciding to volunteer, all the way through their exiting the organization. Using a co-design session, we brainstormed various interventions to help managers organize their volunteer training as well as times when volunteers need help.

The volunteer experience within an organization can be broken down into four phases:




Before you launch your volunteer program, you may want to consider best methods for organizing your volunteers. The guides below provide a structure for training and managing your volunteers.

A guide to the orientation process starting with how volunteers find your call for help page, through their first morning at your organization’s site.

A guide to soliciting feedback from your volunteers in order to help spot pain points and successes in your organization management.

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A guide to text and chat groups to help your volunteers stay in communication with each other, share documents, and more while maintaining privacy considerations.

Links to additional resources for training, education, and downloadables from other non-profit groups.

Getting Started


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These resources are built to help instill organizational values in your client-facing volunteers through creative means of reflection, visual design, and reference tools.

A guide on incorporating reflection and conversations into the volunteer experience to build confidence, resiliency, and awareness in volunteers.

Opportunities and best practices for visual learning in your organization. Branding, posters, and organization merchandise including clothing and stickers.

Templates for scripts to give your volunteers to help them through common interactions or language translations.

Teaching Values


These resources are built to strengthen connections between your volunteers, staff, clients, and the broader community.

A guide to help organize celebratory and connecting events for your volunteers.

Tips and considerations on how to structure a volunteer mentor system to onboard new volunteers.

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Building Community
Give Feedback


We are a group of four masters students at the University of Washington’s Human Centered Design & Engineering program. This toolkit is the product of our Capstone project, a 6-month project in which we investigated and addressed a problem with a research-driven approach. In our case, we focused on food insecurity in Seattle and the interactions between food providers and those who utilize their services. We were particularly interested in the experiences of volunteer managers and volunteers when it comes to orientation and educational tools around food justice values such as anti-racism and trauma-informed care. 


We’re interested in your experiences using part or all of the toolkit. If you have further resources to contribute, we would love to add them. Please use the contact form below to let us know.

Thanks for your feedback!

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