Volunteer Handbooks serve many purposes, the most important of which is to insure that every volunteer is reading off the same page. They must truly understand both the Mission and Vision of the place where they volunteer.
The handbook should be distributed at orientation, as it gives you a guide to use in walking through that process. To prepare for your orientation, you should sit down and using a yellow highlighter, mark the most important items. Ask yourself what the bare minimum information is that you need to give to your volunteers. This is the information that must be presented in person to your volunteers.
You might even consider having the volunteers mark their handbooks, with a yellow pen, just like you marked yours. This will let you point out all the items that you are not covering. We have included a form that acknowledges that they have received their handbook and that they agree to read it. Make this page a tear-out of your handbook, because you will want to collect it and place it in their volunteer file. This paper, with their signature and date, will be your insurance that they did in fact go home with a handbook, that they agreed to read it, and that before they start volunteering they have all the policies and rules to keep them safe.
It should be their personal copy, put their name on it and if you want, assign it a number. I am not saying that this will protect you in the case of civil litigation, but it is proof that you attempted to get them the word.