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Resources Manual

Community Leaders: How to Build a Thriving Volunteer Program


This manual captures the essential ingredients for creating a thriving volunteer program in community-based organizations, particularly those working with people who are experiencing income and food insecurity.

Our aim is to address the approaches that are unique to working with volunteers who are also program participants (people who use your organization’s services).

We believe that prioritizing participants in volunteer roles offers multiple benefits — from challenging the giver-receiver dynamic common in charities to adding a layer of leadership and skill-building to your existing programs. 

This manual will help you make the case for funding by helping you create a program that's tied to your organization’s strategic goals and that has demonstrable impact. 

Produced with our partner Community Food Centres (CFCs) and Good Food Organizations (GFOs) in mind, this manual is grounded in Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC)’s Good Food Principles.

You can use the manual to manage volunteers who are working in food access or food skills programs, and community-building or fundraising events. 

Whether you are looking to build a volunteer program from the ground up, or revamp an existing program, this manual offers the foundation, complete with inspiring stories and adaptable templates to help you on your way.


  • Volunteer philosophy
  • The basics of the volunteer engagement cycle
  • Who volunteers and why?
  • The role of the volunteer coordinator
  • Getting started
  • Onboarding new volunteers
  • Supporting volunteers to succeed
  • Creating a culture of reflection and feedback
  • Troubleshooting common issues
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