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setting are natural partners for drafting. In addition, broad-based working groups can help to focus public support and attention on the volunteerism law or policy in a way in which government alone is not capable.


A typical law will include the following elements:

  • Purposes / Introduction. These are preliminary articles that explain the purpose of the law and the reasons for its adoption.

  • Definitions. These articles define terms that are used in the law. Properly defining common terms such as “volunteer” and “volunteer-involving organization” is essential to promote understanding among implementers of the law and the general public.

  • Operative Provisions. These articles are the substantive portion of the law and make up the bulk of its text. It is important that these provisions be clearly written, focused, and carefully targeted. Usually the rights and obligations of volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations are specified here; if a new volunteer agency is being created these provisions might also outline the authorities, rights, and functioning of the new agency. Other operative provisions can include volunteer incentives such as tax relief or the creation of a dedicated government fund to support volunteering, rules on volunteer contracts, required record-keeping, etc.

  • Compliance / Enforcement / Implementing Provisions. These articles specify the supervising agency or ministries and the authorities granted to supervise and enforce compliance with the law. Civil penalties for violations of the volunteer law may be specified. If so, penalties should be specific and proportional (“a fine in the amount of… shall be imposed on anyone who fails to keep records in accordance with the rules specified in Article…”) rather than general (“a fine will be imposed on any person who violates this law”).

  • Transitional Provisions. These provisions will explain the process of coming into force for the new law and specify any other laws which may be amended or cancelled after the current law comes into effect.

  • Effective Date. These provisions specify the date on which the new law will take effect.

Policies may contain all of the elements highlighted above as well as additional explanatory sections providing:

  • An Overview of the Situation. A statement of past and current volunteerism efforts and a description of the needs assessment process that led to adoption of the law or policy.

  • Guiding Principles and Aims of Government Action. A detailed statement of the intent of the drafters and the principles that guided their work may be provided.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines. Detailed explanations of the goals of the law or policy and how each goal will be measured ensure that policymakers will be able to monitor and improve the impact of their initiatives.

  • An Implementation Plan. Provisions clearly stating the government branches and other groups tasked with implementation, and a specific division of responsibilities as well as a timeframe for implementation help to ensure that the law or policy will in fact be implemented on schedule and without undue delay.


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