Policies and Procedures

Volunteer Letter

September 19, 2000


TO: Deans, Directors, Chairs

FROM: John Wiley, Provost

RE: Letters for Volunteers

It is very important for liability purposes that anyone volunteering at UW-Madison be given a letter - similar to an appointment letter - outlining the conditions of the relationship. Attached is a sample letter for your use and a fact sheet to be given to volunteers.

Although volunteers certainly do not need to be university retirees, the newly formed UW-Madison Retirement Association is very excited about volunteering opportunities on campus. Many of its members have expressed interest in staying in touch with the university and this could be a way to continue to tap into the wealth of expertise that retirees have and are willing to share.

If you have any questions about liability coverage for volunteers, contact Rick Gibbs, Director of Risk Management at 2-8925 or rgibbs@bussvc.wisc.edu. For other questions, contact Steve Lund, Director of Academic Personnel, at 3-2511 or slund@ohr.wisc.edu.


xc: Pam Bauman, Human Resources

Joseph Corry, UW-Madison Retirement Association

Rick Gibbs, Risk Management

Stephen Lund, Academic Personnel Office

Don Miner, Business Services

Carla Raatz, Human Resources

James Stratton, Classified Personnel Office

Personnel Representatives


NOTE: The letter must include the terms of the volunteer agreement (i.e., begin date, end date (if any), time commitment, responsibilities), whom to contact with questions, the insurance paragraph and the ID card paragraph. The Volunteer Fact Sheet must be attached to the letter.


Thank you for your willingness to volunteer your services to UW-Madison and specifically this department. We look forward to you helping us with the project.

Based on our previous discussions, your activities as a volunteer will be [briefly describe the responsibilities]____. You will begin x/x/xx and continue for as long as we mutually wish to maintain the relationship [Specific end date also possible]. You have indicated that you can spend approximately xx hours [or list a range] per week on these activities.

Please read carefully the attached "Volunteer Fact Sheet." Note that receipt of this letter makes you an official volunteer and that you will be covered by the State's liability protection program so long as you perform your duties within the scope of the description provided above. Since volunteers are not covered by the state's worker compensation program, however, you are encouraged to maintain your own health insurance. If you should be injured during the course of your activities and the injury results from the negligence of a University employee or agent, you would have the same legal rights to seek compensation as would any visitor to the campus.

As a retiree of the University, you are eligible for an ID card. If you don't already have one, you may want to contact the administrator of your former department. [IF THE VOLUNTEER IS NOT RETIRED FROM THE UNIVERSITY, OMIT THIS SECTION]

If you have any questions about your volunteer service to our department, please do not hesitate to let me know. Again, thank you for your willingness to donate your time, energy and expertise. We really appreciate it!


Attachment: Volunteer Fact Sheet
Volunteer Fact Sheet - For Departments and Volunteers

Appropriate Responsibilities for Volunteers

A department should not rely on volunteers to perform duties that are typically performed by permanent employees - other than on a short-term basis. Volunteers should be supplementing the work done by employees, not replacing the need for paid staff.

Letter to the Volunteer

To avoid any confusion about the terms of the relationship, the department should send a letter to the volunteer spelling out the begin date, end date (if any), time commitment, responsibilities, whom to contact with questions and information about insurance coverage and ID cards.

Insurance Issues

Liability protection is provided to all officers, employees and agents of the University under Wisconsin Statute, Section 895.46(1). Volunteers acting under the direction and control of the University and for its benefit are considered agents and thus covered. This statute authorizes the State to pay claims based on the negligent acts of employees or agents or to defend employees or agents against allegations of negligence, which may have caused injury or property damage to others provided the employee or agent was acting within the scope of his/her responsibilities to the University. It is important that volunteers acknowledge mistakes that could lead to potential liability claims and that such incidents be reported promptly by the department to the UW-Madison Risk Management Office.

Volunteers are not covered by worker's compensation, however. If injured during the course of their volunteer work, they would have the same legal rights as any visitor to the campus to seek compensation if the injury resulted from University negligence.

ID Cards

Retirees of the University are eligible to retain a valid ID card. Those retirees granted emeritus status will have their ID card validated automatically. For other UW retirees who held a UW-Madison ID card before retirement, the last employing department must recommend continuation of the ID card. Volunteers who are not UW retirees can only obtain an ID card if they are given a zero-dollar appointment.

9/00 Academic Personnel Office