Edinburgh Local

Policy Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions

Here is some policy guidance and some questions and answers that you might helpful when starting your volunteering journey.

Policy guidance

Out-of-hours volunteering 

The paid leave is only applicable if the volunteering is done during the normal contracted working hours. Evening and weekend volunteering only fits the policy if this is a standard working pattern for you.  This is in line with all other paid leave offered by the University.  



The time you spend volunteering is in a personal capacity - it’s your day of paid leave to use for volunteering. However, if you are volunteering as a group, some people might think you are representing the University. In both cases, University policies relating to dignity and respect should be upheld. 


Insurance and Liability  

The University has Public Liability Insurance which covers activities when you are acting in an employee capacity. However, each organisation is responsible for you when you are volunteering with them. 



While you are entitled to your annual day of paid leave, your manager will have to consider the business needs. Flexibility may be required from all parties. 



If you work for a subsidiary company of the University, you may not be entitled to a day of paid leave for volunteering. Please check your conditions of employment. 


Splitting time  

Some volunteering opportunities will require only a short amount of time each week, but over several weeks. Record your activity when you accumulate your contractual daily working hours. 


Sharing leave 

Paid leave for a day of volunteering is part of your annual leave allocation and, therefore, only you are allowed to use it. You cannot gift or receive a colleague’s allocation. 


Frequently Asked Questions


What is A Day to Make a Difference?  

The University’s A Day to Make a Difference entitles every staff member to an additional day of paid leave to volunteer for a charity, organisation or other good cause. To use your day, you need to request, just like annual leave, on People and Money, and your line manager must approve it. Some teams have used their day together and volunteered as a group. For inspiration and ideas, and more information on the policy, please visit the  volunteering pages


I want to volunteer; how do I do it? 

Volunteering is very rewarding, and you have various options depending on how you’d like to spend your day. You can volunteer as part of a group if your school, department or team has organised something (they may do in the future if they haven’t currently).  You can also volunteer as an individual.  

Check out our handy 'How To' guide to take you  through the process step by  step. 

Handy checklist: How to use my Day to Make  a Difference


I have a specific charity I’d like to volunteer with. Is this okay?  

Brilliant! The University encourages you to use existing links with organisations and volunteer at places that are meaningful to you.  


How do I contact an organisation? 

Nearly all charities and organisations will have a website or social media page. Find contact details there and get in touch. Don’t be afraid to ask what opportunities they have – you aren't committing to anything. 


I don’t have a specific charity in mind, but I'm passionate about ‘X’. 

The first place to check is on the search engines we’ve linked to on the ‘Sources of Volunteering Opportunities’ web page. If there’s nothing there, search online for charities that work in 'X’ in your local area.  


I don’t have any organisation in mind and don’t mind in what area, how should I find the right place for me?  

This gives you lots of options! Use the search engines to see what’s available. Use the filters to find more specific opportunities. Have a look at our list of Community Grantees to find organisations we already work with.  


How do I know if they are a certified/legitimate organisation? 

Make sure your communications are clear and you never put yourself at risk. Take time to understand the opportunity and the organisation. You might be able to look them up on the Scottish Charities Register here: https://www.oscr.org.uk/ or on the EVOC Red Book here: https://www.evoc.org.uk/about-evoc/red-book/ 


Am I actually helping if I can only volunteer with them for a day?  

Don’t worry, you can have a massive impact even for one day. You are sharing your skills, experience and time. Here are a few ways to increase your impact: 

  • Invite a colleague to volunteer with the same organisation, at the same time or afterwards 

  • Ask your departmental administrator to organise a group volunteering event 

  • Volunteer for a short period of time over a number of weeks 

  • Tell other people, your friends and family about the work you’ve done 

  • Let Edinburgh Local to share your story 


Do I have to work with an organisation or community? 

It is best to find an established organisation or community so you can be sure you are meeting a need. Your volunteering must be focussed and effective.