Managing spontaneous volunteers

Endorsed by

Insufficiencies in the management of spontaneous volunteers on the scene in terms of location, tasking, capabilities, and shift duration.

Relevant hazards
Potential Solutions
Following solutions could be addressing this gap.

There are different types of volunteers with different capabilities and needs:

  • Spontaneous volunteer: “Individual who is not affiliated with an existing incident or voluntary but who, without extensive preplanning, offers support to the to, and from, an incident”
  • Affiliated volunteers: “These volunteers are attached to a recognised voluntary agency that have trained them for response and has a mechanism in place to address their use in an
  • “Digital volunteers”: providing support on social media The main challenges regard the registration, management and communication with unaffiliated volunteers during an incident or (typically done onsite during the ) and the limited communication and team work among unaffiliated volunteers.

methods and procedures exist to coordinate and manage affiliated volunteers, but not for spontaneous volunteers (development of serious games ongoing).

References in the literature: this is widely recognised and well detailed in the literature.

Rationale & related CM function(s)

Communicate with, assess the abilities, task, track the location and engagement (e.g. shift duration) of spontaneous volunteers during a crisis.
Establish organisation needed to identify and register spontaneous volunteers and to assign them to teams and coordinators; assure that an adequate legal basis is in place.
Define responsibilities and procedures for tasking spontaneous volunteers, offering their support to response and recovery operations, and ‘digital volunteers’ willing to provide support on social media.
The support of unaffiliated and ‘digital’ volunteers will be facilitated when opportunities for application of relevant modes of crowd sourcing are established and the information on such opportunities is widely disseminated.
Crisis communications and information management documentation and procedures need to provide opportunities to receive information from and manage spontaneous volunteers.
Provide adequate training for different types of volunteers. in particular for the spontaneous and digital volunteers.


DRIVER+ project has received funding from the European Union's 7th Framework Programme for Research,
Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreement (GA) N° #607798