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Volunteer Handbook

The goal of this document is to help people interested in volunteering in any capacity for SIGCHI to understand the rules and structures that shape our volunteering. Being a volunteer for SIGCHI is both an honor and a responsibility. We believe that voluntarism benefits our community in multiple ways. First, it helps fuel peer-based scholarship central to our endeavor. Second, volunteering can help individual members to share their skills and experiences with others in novel ways. Third, volunteering can benefit the individual by providing access to peers, teaching leadership, and letting volunteers see emergent topics in HCI, among other things. This document does not supersede any other ACM policies but provides a high level overview of the existing policies.

Principles of Voluntarism in SIGCHI

SIGCHI volunteering is built on the following core principles:


The core endeavor of SIGCHI is the creation and dissemination of knowledge in human-computer interaction. That work has many aspects, including growing, developing, and maintaining a diverse, global community of scholars and professionals. Another is designing and operating equitable processes for reviewing and sharing scholarship.


The principle of beneficence calls for kindness, charity, respect for all persons. In practice, this means treating all participants in the SIGCHI community, including those that volunteer their time to serve our community, with respect and dignity. Communication should be respectful and assume good intent for all parties.


The principle of humility regards self-reflection in terms of our own role and participation in the SIGCHI community. This can mean different things for different people. It could mean reflection of your privilege and how that affects your perspective on scholarly activities. It could mean listening to others in how your actions are affecting them. 

Privacy and Trust

The community trusts volunteers with their data and privacy. This means data one encounters or collects while volunteering is owned by the organization and should be protected at all times.   To maintain privacy, data should be used only for its intended purpose, data should not be shared with others without authorization, and data should not be retained after volunteer service has completed. 


While these are volunteer positions, many people in the community depend on the efficient and professional accomplishment of these roles. Consequently, SIGCHI relies on volunteers to accomplish their tasks in a timely, consistent, effective, and professional manner. 

Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities

A Volunteer’s Rights

1. The right to be safe

One of the benefits of volunteering is that we can decide to intentionally leave our comfort zones in order to experience new and challenging situations, environments, or roles. However, there is a big difference between feeling off-center or uncomfortable and being unsafe. As a volunteer, you have the right to be apprised of any potential risks as well as have precautionary measures and safety procedures in place to ensure your physical and emotional well-being. You have the right to ask for conditions to be implemented to make you safe.

2. The right to information about your volunteer role or project

Whether it is questions about the application process (when will I find out if I’ve been accepted?) or the volunteer role or project itself (what are the duties of this role? who will I be working with? how will my efforts make a difference?), you have the right to know the who, what, when, why, and how of your volunteer position.

3. The right to have your volunteer effort recognized

Volunteering—whether for two hours or two years—is a significant commitment that you choose to make. In return, you have the right for your time and contribution—however long you’ve volunteered and whatever your task—to be recognized. This can include the right to list your volunteer efforts on your own lists of accomplishments and the right to request formal acknowledgment of your volunteer service. 

4. The right to step down from your position

You have the right to end your volunteer position without penalty and without explanation. It could be that your personal situation has changed, or that the role is not what you were expecting. If, after talking to and working with the VP/Chair you report to, you can not find a suitable path forward in your volunteer experience, you do have the right to do something, or go somewhere, else. Often, it is better to leave a role expeditiously if you can’t perform it for whatever reason, but you should attempt to ensure your work is passed off to another volunteer or to the VP/Chair you report to.

5. The right to have your grievances heard

If you have trouble communicating with the VP/chair you report to for some reason, or find yourself in conflict with them, then you should contact the VP/Chair they report to, should that be the conference chairs, the appropriate Vice President of the Executive Committee, or ACM leadership. In extremis, you can contact the SIGCHI President ( or Executive Vice President ( or reach out to SIGCHI CARES ( for guidance on next steps. Beyond them, you can contact the ACM President ( 

A Volunteer’s Responsibilities

1. The responsibility to communicate your needs

If you feel like your volunteer experience isn’t matching your expectation, talk to the VP/Chair you report to, providing specifics about your dissatisfaction and at least a few suggestions of ways to make it better. Note that this does not mean you will get everything you request, but it does start the conversation towards mutual resolution. Similarly, don’t hesitate to let them know if you feel you need additional tools, training, or support; if they can’t provide it directly, they should at least be able to point you in the right direction.

2. The responsibility to follow through on your obligations

The success of SIGCHI depends on the selfless, timely contributions of a vast network of volunteers. Your peer volunteers depend on you following through on the work you commit to, providing appropriate notice if you’re unable to perform your tasks or responsibilities, saying no or stepping away from volunteering when necessary, ensuring that you don’t over promise on things you cannot deliver, and generally serving as a good representative of the organization in the community. It is best to communicate that you must step back from your obligations than to simply stop communicating with the other volunteers you work with entirely. 

3. The responsibility to honor the organization’s investment in you

Each time SIGCHI welcomes a new volunteer into the fold, it is making an investment in their professional development via staff time, tools, training, and so on.  This is why it is important to research your volunteer position first to determine if it is a good fit for you, and, once you’re in the role, to always first try to discuss your volunteer role if you’re unsatisfied, rather than just suddenly leaving.

4. The responsibility to take care of yourself

You have the responsibility to make sure that you aren’t overextending yourself, burning out, or causing yourself physical, mental, or emotional harm by taking on roles that aren’t a good fit or that you aren’t prepared for. While some stress and burnout may be inevitable depending on the project, you can significantly limit it by seeking out support (talk to the VP/Chair to you report to and fellow volunteers), taking a break (either as you’re volunteering or stepping away from volunteering altogether for a while), injecting some fun into your service portfolio (even if it is just a one day gig on the side), and having realistic expectations about what can be accomplished and when.

5. The responsibility to take care of volunteers who report to you

Often, a volunteer is in a position where they are responsible for other volunteers, e.g. a committee chair, program chair, or conference chair among others. Being in charge of other volunteers means you should be responsible to communicate with them clearly, make sure they are aware of all ACM and SIGCHI policies pertinent to their roles, and address their concerns clearly and timely. If you do not know how to address your report’s concerns, seek guidance from the VP/Chair you report to. 

6. The responsibility to be aware of and abide by ACM and SIGCHI policies

There are a number of policies which can guide one’s volunteering activities. Most are written by the ACM – the liable organization for all of our conferences and activities. As a special interest group of the ACM, SIGCHI has further policies to guide our volunteer activities. Below is a guide of all policies volunteers should be aware of and must abide by. Violations of these policies can range from a warning to a sanction by the ACM itself. 

Summary of Policies that Volunteers Must Abide By

ACM Policies that Pertain to All Volunteers

ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (1992, updated 2018)

Policy Against Harassment at ACM Events (2018)

ACM Conflict of Interest (COI) policy

  • Note that this covers rules with regards to Confidential Information, Personal Gain, Political Action, and Professional Conduct. “Personal gain” has also been interpreted to include research publications based on data that I have collected in my volunteer role. If my intention is to publish on data that I gain access to through my volunteer role, then I must follow the guidelines from the start as written in [SIGCHI data guidelines policy in the process of being written].

ACM Privacy Policy

  • In the course of your volunteering task you may have access to private information (e.g. reviewing, registration) and it is incumbent upon you to not share that information without a need to know.

ACM Policies that Pertain to Volunteers Involved in Publications (e.g. program committee chairs, reviewers)

ACM Publication Policies and Procedures

SIGCHI Policies that Pertain to All Volunteers


The following people contributed to this document:

Andrew Kun, Cliff Lampe, Helena Mentis, Ron Metoyer, Pamela Wisniewski, Julie Williamson, Karla Badillo-Urquiola