5 Easy Ways to Drive Away Good Volunteers

Posted by Walter Kearns on 8/20/18 6:30 AM

Almost every non-profit depends on volunteers to help them accomplish their mission and to finish the daily work that needs to be done to make sure the organization runs smoothly. Non-profits have the unique ability to connect people’s heart with their mission and vision faster than any other type of organization. Volunteers will exhaust themselves to better your organization and cause simply because they believe in it! What a powerful tool this can be!

Volunteers can be one of the greatest assets your non-profit organization can utilize, not paying attention to how you are using this resource can lead to burnout and can turn a full-on supporter to a bitter former volunteer. Since it can be hard to know where the line is between dedication and burnout, it’s important to keep an eye on these 5 most common mistakes.

Not Showing Value

People are willing and excited to work for you and your non-profit. The core nature of a non-profit is to create a place where needs are met. Your volunteers want to help meet this need and it will come at no cost to you. Show them appreciation and make sure that every single volunteer feels that he or she has brought a great value to the organization.

Non-Specific Tasks

The fastest way to lose a skilled volunteer is to not give them a specific job. If you are excited about someone coming to help, target their gift set and abilities and have them work within their strengths. Help people thrive by being intentional with their role and allowing them to work in their giftings and you’ll see their contribution goal. If you don’t, they’ll leave due to a lack of interest or burnout because they’re working on tasks that don’t fit their skill set.


Hand with marker writing Volunteer


No Creative Freedom

When you ask your volunteers to take responsibility for a task, let them have the freedom to complete that task. When volunteers are given the freedom to come up with ideas and new ways of thinking they will blow you away with their innovation. There will be some ideas that fail, but failure is part of the many steps towards success. If you want something done perfectly you need to find a way to hire more employees to go through training. Volunteers are giving their time for free, remember this and the results may surprise you.


On a similar note from above, don’t do the work of your volunteers for them. If they do a task and they do it wrong, inform them of their mistake and tell them how it should be done right. If you come along behind them and complete a task they did improperly you are negating their charity of time and creating double work for yourself. Coach your volunteers on mistakes they make and you’ll double your output while giving value back to your volunteers.


Low angle portrait of happy volunteers forming a huddle against blue sky-1


Lack of Vision

Volunteers are coming to help with your organization because they see it as an avenue to do something that has an impact greater than they could make alone. They have identified your organization as an area where they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Make sure you cast your vision well. Let them know how they are furthering your mission and how they play a vital part. Be clear about where you see the company going and how exciting it is that their role will help you get there.

If you are able to avoid these common pitfalls your organization will have the opportunity to grow and your impact will be magnified 10 fold.


Looking for more information on how to grow the quality of your volunteers? Sign up for the webinar below or download our free ebook by clicking on the appropriate banner.


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Topics: volunteers, school fundraisers