Designing a Museum Volunteer Program


Introducing a new edition!

This toolkit has helped hundreds of museum professionals create successful and sustainable volunteer programs. Now in its second edition, you too can get the guidance, policies, worksheets, and real-life examples you need to create an incredible volunteer program at your museum.

Get your copy today!

What’s new in the Second Edition?

  • Eight real life examples from museums
  • A new section on Organizational Value and Strategic Planning
  • An expanded Evaluation section and DEAI information & resources
  • Resources to help guide tough conversations, such as not accepting a volunteer applicant
    or letting a volunteer go
  • Resources on volunteer management systems (VMS)
  • Seven crucial questions to help define differences between staff and volunteer roles
    before making an assignment.
  • And more!

Check out the Volunteer Voices podcast series! Produced by the American Association of Museum Volunteers in conversation with author of the toolkit and AAM MAP Program Officer, Susan Zwerling. Transcripts are available.

  • Episode 1: In the current times, how can museums safely engage volunteers and match them with meaningful responsibilities that meet the pressing needs of the moment? Learn more about the considerations museums face in crafting and sustaining a successful museum volunteer program, and how the resources in this toolkit can help.
  • Episode 2: What are the barriers to a diverse and inclusive volunteer program, and how do we dismantle them? How can volunteer trainings be adjusted to encourage diversity? To explore these questions and more, jump into this episode.
  • Episode 3: How do you sustain a volunteer program? In this episode, learn more about what might be needed to support and sustain a volunteer program.

Why and How to Use this Toolkit

Whether you want to start a new museum volunteer program or revitalize an existing one, this toolkit will guide you toward the resources and framework you need to be successful and sustainable.

With this toolkit, you will:

  • Take stock of what you have in place already and what you’d like to have in the future
  • Distinguish essential resources from aspirational ones
  • Determine where to focus your energy and time
  • Create realistic expectations for your program which can be included in your museum’s overall strategic plan
  • Build a case for budget requests, grant writing, and appeals to donors

This toolkit provides a support structure that will guide you in making day-to-day decisions and setting future plans for your program.

What is included

Learn about the key components in a museum volunteer program framework; why a museum needs volunteers, and the keys to structuring, developing, and supporting the museum volunteer program. Through a combination of tools, tips, professional standards, systems, and worksheets, this toolkit will help you to construct a well-run and sustainable volunteer program.

You will learn about:

Structuring the program

  • Position descriptions
  • Marketing & recruitment
  • Application & hiring process (worksheet)
  • Policies & procedures (worksheet)
  • Training & development (worksheet)

Developing the program

  • Orientation & training (worksheet)
  • Evaluating volunteers & your program
  • Recognition & rewards (worksheet)
  • Professional development

What to do in times of individual crisis

  • Supporting volunteers during times of personal crisis
  • How to maintain coverage
  • Ensuring the sense of community remains

Supporting the program

  • Communication network
  • Record keeping
  • Risk management (worksheet)
  • Budget

Take a peek at the full table of contents.


Get your copy today!

AAM member discount: $29.99

Retail price: $34.99

Member discount available to the following membership categories: Tier 2 and 3, Ally, Industry, and Individual. To receive your discount log-in to your AAM account.

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.