What should volunteers do if clients offer them a gift? Is it appropriate for volunteers to give gifts to clients? At this time of year it’s especially important to know how to respond to these questions.
Volunteers and clients can develop very special bonds over time. The result can be that volunteers may think of themselves as more of a friend to the client than as a volunteer. Because the relationship began with the Meals on Wheels service, and the individual remains a Meals on Wheels client, it’s important to remember that you are always volunteering and representing Meals on Wheels in your interactions with clients. Volunteers need to maintain some boundaries that ordinary friends do not have.
It is never appropriate to accept from or give to a client (or client’s family) a monetary or financial gift of any kind .If a client expresses that they are having financial difficulty, and asks for your help advise them to notify Meals on Wheels. Please also follow up with a phone call to the Manager of Volunteers.
The giving and receiving of small tokens of respect, friendship and appreciation are acceptable if they are of reasonable value such as a card, flower or snack.
If more than a token gift is offered by a client, explain that you value their appreciation but that it is against Meals on Wheels policy for volunteers to accept gifts beyond token gifts and that volunteers can never accept money.
Clients are welcome to make donations directly to Meals on Wheels in support of the service or specifically to support the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Event if they so desire.