Reimbursing expenses is intended to enable volunteers’ involvement in the charity’s work, to reduce barriers to volunteering and involve a diverse community of volunteers across the UK. Volunteers can request reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred through their volunteering with Teenage Cancer Trust to cover travel and subsistence costs.

Teenage Cancer Trust reserves the right to reject expense claims where volunteers have not complied with the expenses policy and to recover any money paid in respect of claims which are subsequently found not to meet the terms of this policy. We reserve the right to refuse payment for claims older than three months.

After reading this policy, if the volunteer or staff member has any further questions or concerns regarding appropriate expenses, please contact: [email protected]


1. Scope

This Volunteer Expenses Policy covers all official volunteering activities completed on behalf of Teenage Cancer Trust. This includes activities and events arranged by Teenage Cancer Trust such as Bucket Boss Collections, Challenge Events and Office Volunteers or volunteers who are engaged with regional activities on behalf of Teenage Cancer Trust.

A Teenage Cancer Trust volunteer is defined as someone who completed tasks or roles in line with a Teenage Cancer Trust volunteer role description and with the knowledge of the Volunteering Team. All volunteers must have completed an application form and be registered on our database.

Supporters who engage in fundraising activities not covered by a volunteer role description - such as young people who tell their story at events - are not considered volunteers. These supporters should speak to their local fundraising contact to determine how to claim for any expenses incurred in their involvement with Teenage Cancer Trust (effective from 1 Jan 2020).

  • If a staff member is unsure whether their supporter is a volunteer, they should check with the volunteering manager before the supporter engages in activities for which the supporter might seek reimbursement of expenses.

This policy does not cover any individuals conducting activities in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust that they have organised and where they would be considered a supporter of the charity.

2. Key Principles

Minimising costs maximises our impact, therefore we ask volunteers to keep expenses to a reasonable and necessary level; seeking the cheapest ticket option for any travel by public transport. In the case that an expense is submitted for a route where cheaper alternatives were readily available, Teenage Cancer Trust reserves the right to reimburse only the lower amount.

With all volunteering activities, if a volunteer has mobility or accessibility requirements, we will consider options on an individual basis to ensure they are supported to participate.

All volunteers will need to submit dated receipts and a signed volunteer expenses form as per the process outlined below in order to claim. Only reasonable out of pocket expenses to cover subsistence or travel associated with our volunteering activities will be reimbursed by Teenage Cancer Trust.

There is no specific rule on how often volunteers may claim expenses, however, due to the cost to Teenage Cancer Trust of processing claims, wherever possible, claims should be combined. As a general rule, volunteers should aim to consolidate expense claims as much as they can afford to without causing undue strain on their personal finances – the amount that any given person can comfortably afford to be out of pocket will vary so we have not set a guide amount.

3. Expenses not supported by this policy

Volunteers cannot claim for alcoholic beverages as part of their volunteering expenses in keeping with our no alcohol and no smoking policy for staff and volunteers whilst on shift or in uniform.

Volunteers cannot claim for fuel purchases using the volunteering claim form. If traveling by car, volunteers should work out their mileage using Google Maps and calculate the total based on 45p per mile and include this on the form.

Parking fees as standard. Where possible we encourage volunteers to use public transport or to try to find a free parking area nearby. Only where parking fees are unavoidable, will these be reimbursed. Speeding, other driving offences and parking infringement fines will not be reimbursed.

Non-essential travel booking fees. Some third-party apps and/or platforms, such as Trainline, charge a small fee for their services such as e-tickets. These will not be covered where free alternatives, such as printing physical tickets at a train station, are available.

Accommodation charges as standard. Overnight accommodation expenses can only be claimed with prior consent from the volunteering manager or head of volunteering and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Some volunteering roles require an informal face to face interview and every effort will be made to offer a location that is local to the volunteer. As such, we do not cover travel expenses to interviews.

4. Travel expenses

The cap on travel expenses per volunteer per day is £25 in normal circumstances. If there are exceptional circumstances that will require reimbursement at a higher rate, this should be cleared with the volunteering manager or head of volunteering prior to agreeing with the volunteer.

Volunteers at head office can be reimbursed for travel expenses to and from the office within London Travel Zones 1 to 6. This will not take the form of an unlimited day travelcard other than where this is the cheapest option. For volunteers whose duties include travelling between the home and office only, a ticket for a return journey should be purchased.

Volunteers involved with regional events, projects or activities can be reimbursed for travel expenses for journeys made to and from their volunteering activity as agreed by their volunteer manager (their Teenage Cancer Trust staff contact). If travel expenses have been agreed prior to volunteering for travelling in the volunteer’s own vehicle, we use the government standard mileage rate to calculate the amount, currently calculated at 45p per mile.

Such expenses should be discussed with their staff contact to confirm reimbursement prior to booking/making their journey as Teenage Cancer Trust cannot take responsibility for reimbursing journeys made without prior agreement.

4.1 The use of taxis:

The usual expectation is that public transport will be used in all instances, particularly in central London. The use of taxis will not be reimbursed unless it can be shown that it was not practical or reasonable to use public transport. These instances may include:

  • public transport is not suitable or available e.g. travelling late at night or where heavy or bulky equipment is being transported or the passenger has restricted mobility
  • where a shared taxi is cheaper than public transport;
  • there are limited public transport alternatives;
  • emergency situations; and/or
  • health & safety reasons – such as carrying large amounts of money

4.2 Receipt requirements:

Receipts should be full itemised receipts; debit/credit card receipts or emails are not sufficient.

Rail tickets bearing the value of the ticket may be submitted where the accompanying receipt does not itemise the journey(s) made.

In the case of an Oyster card or contactless payment, volunteers should include the printed transaction history, or journey history for Oyster cards available via TFL and clearly highlight any journeys and dates that were to and from the volunteering activity. Oyster card top-ups will not be reimbursed – expense claims must be for the actual costs of travel which have been incurred.

We are unable to reimburse the purchase of any form of season ticket or railcard (such as young persons, senior or disability railcards) as these are classed as a taxable benefit by HMRC.

Taxi expenses must always be supported by a receipt and full explanation outlining the business reason. Expense claims without this narrative will be rejected which will delay reimbursement. Please note – hand-written receipts are accepted for taxi claims provided they are on taxi company stationery (e.g. a receipt card).

4.3 Lift sharing/group travel:

If a group of volunteers are lift sharing, only the driver will be able to claim up to their individual travel expenses limit of £25 for a single volunteering activity. All volunteers will be able to claim subsistence expenses as usual.

If a larger group of young people is volunteering at an event accompanied by a group leader, we will consider expenses on a case by case basis to establish whether reimbursing mileage or covering part hire of a minibus would be most appropriate.

4.4 Examples of the policy in action:

Marta volunteers once a week in head office from 10am to 4pm. She commutes from her home in Slade Green, in London’s zone 6. The cost of a return (combined) rail and underground ticket is £13.10. Marta chooses to buy a one day zones 1-6 travelcard because she intends to meet some friends after volunteering. The travelcard costs £18.60, but Marta can only claim the cost of her travel to and from the office, so pays the difference of £5.50 herself.

Fon also volunteers once a week in head office. She lives within fifteen minutes’ walk of the office and commutes on foot. She is not entitled to claim travel expenses on a regular basis. However, when Fon injures her ankle and is unable to walk to the office, her volunteer manager (her Teenage Cancer Trust contact) agrees that Fon can temporarily claim bus fares to and from the office, at the cost of £3.30 per day, until she is well again.

Ben volunteers at the Great North Run. He lives in North Yorkshire and travels to the event by train using an advance ticket at a cost of £21.45. Ben’s wife Lisa volunteers at the same event and travels with him, but doesn’t book her travel until the day of the event. Her ticket costs £30.00. Ben is able to claim the entire cost of his train ticket, but Lisa can only claim £25.00, so pays the £5.00 difference herself.

5. Subsistence expenses

Volunteers can claim subsistence when volunteering away from home, or are travelling outside of their local area (e.g. to Teenage Cancer Trust head office) and engaging in volunteering activities for more than four hours and over a standard mealtime and where it is not practical to take their own.

Multiple subsistence claims should not be claimed for the same volunteering activity unless this activity spans more than seven hours.

5.1 Breakfast:

The cost of breakfast, up to the value of £5 per volunteer per day will be reimbursed only if it is necessary for the volunteer to commence their journey from home on Teenage Cancer Trust business before 6.00am.

5.2 Lunch:

The cost of lunch, up to the value of £5 per volunteer per day will be reimbursed if they are away from home over the lunch period.

Kitchen facilities are available to use at head office including a fridge, toaster and microwave therefore, we would appreciate volunteers bringing lunch with them on their volunteering day to minimise costs. However, we will reimburse lunch expenses for purchased lunches where preferred, provided the volunteer is giving four hours or more and their volunteering covers the lunch period.

5.3 Evening meals/snacks:

It is not generally the case that volunteers will have cause to claim for evening meals, but in the case of a late evening activity, we will reimburse the following, up to a limit of £5. If the volunteer is on shift for at least four hours in one day and will not return to their home until at least 10.00pm, they may be reimbursed for the costs incurred.

Returning home after 10.00pm owing to engagement in personal/non-Teenage Cancer Trust business will negate the right to claim for evening meal expenses. For example, choosing to meet with a friend or family member after volunteering, or making a detour on the way home would invalidate the claim.

Volunteers supporting our Royal Albert Hall events are encouraged volunteers to eat their evening meal before leaving home, as the evening will be busy. We will supply snacks and refreshments on the evening as the volunteering activity typically finishes at around 11pm.

If volunteers are required to stay away from home overnight, prior agreement from the volunteering manager or head of volunteering will be required to ensure a right to claim expenses.

5.4 Receipt requirements:

Receipts should be full itemised receipts; debit/credit card receipts or emails are not sufficient.

5.5 Examples of the policy in action:

Samantha, Tom and Rajiv all volunteer at the Royal Parks Half Marathon:

Samantha is required to start at 7am. She lives over an hour from the location so leaves home at 5.45am, picking up breakfast on the move at her local train station. Samantha’s volunteering shift ends at midday and afterwards she and another volunteer get lunch together nearby. Samantha is able to claim her breakfast expenses up to the value of £5, but she cannot claim for the cost of her lunch.

Tom lives more locally and leaves home at 6.15am for a start time of 7.00am. Tom volunteers until 11am and then returns home. Tom is not able to claim any subsistence expenses for his shift.

Rajiv’s shift begins at 8am. Rajiv lives nearby and leaves home at 7.30am. He finishes his volunteering shift at 2pm. Rajiv picks up a sandwich lunch from a shop on his way to event, which he is able to submit a claim lunch expenses for, as he has volunteered over lunchtime.

6. Process for claiming expenses

Volunteers can claim by submitting a signed copy of the Volunteer expenses form along with either original or clear digital copies of receipts showing the date(s) of the expense to: [email protected]

Volunteer expenses forms must be completed in full, providing as much detail as possible re: the activity, where it occurred, and the key staff contact. Any incomplete forms cannot be processed. Once submitted, please allow 10 working days for the amount to be reimbursed into the chosen account highlighted on the form.

Volunteers are responsible for claiming their own out of pocket expenses in accordance with the above process and staff members should not claim expenses on behalf of volunteers. Please contact the volunteering manager if you have any questions on this.

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