The Ideal Volunteer: What To Look For


Volunteers are the heart and soul of any organization, but it’s okay to be picky when choosing volunteers for your organization. Photo courtesy of Katherine Anderson.

Volunteers are often the heart and soul of any nonprofit organizations. In fact, many small nonprofit organizations could not stay afloat without the time and effort put in by their volunteers. Nearly 62.8 million Americans volunteer every year. However, just because people volunteer doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an asset to your organization. You may be saying, “Wait a minute, shouldn’t I be thankful and welcome every volunteer my way?” No. It’s okay to be picky. Actually, you should be picky.

There’s no such thing as the ideal volunteer, but there are some things you can look for when choosing what kind of volunteer is best for your organization.

Make sure your volunteer is passionate and has time to help.

Not every volunteer will be able to give five days of their time to your organization, but you do want to make sure they can give an acceptable amount of time to make a difference in your organization. In addition, the volunteer should be passionate about the cause of your organization. Whether volunteers seek you out, or you find them, take time to understand their motivations, skills, and interests to see if it fits your organization’s needs.

Find a volunteer that’s motivated.

Like it or not, many people volunteer simply out of self-interest. But even a self-interested volunteer can be a good one. Motivated people are more likely to show more effort and work harder than others. Make sure this volunteer does have an actual passion or interest in your organization, but don’t shy away from them just because they are self-interested. Many people volunteer because they are required to or think it will add to their resume. Even though their volunteering is truly out of self-interest, they will work hard to get the recommendation they want. It’s okay to use them while you have them to build your organization.

Find volunteers that are good with technology.

Social media platforms and websites are really the heart of good promotion and awareness today for many organizations. In addition, online promotion, education, and awareness can cut down on time and costs of traditional methods for many organizations. Having volunteers that are good with technology and have digital media skills can really add to an organization. There are many different aspects of online media that can help an organization. Finding volunteers that are knowledgable in this area can be key. Organizations that use social media and online methods effectively often have more successful organizations.

Find a volunteer with the right attitude.

Having the right attitude is a key to any successful job or organization. While this may seem like common sense, it should not be overlooked. Look for volunteers who are willing to do anything, even if it’s outside of their skill set or comfort zone. Many times nonprofits can be run short on help due to many factors. It’s always a possibility that a volunteer may have to step outside their skill set to cover for someone else. You want to make sure you find volunteers willing to do this, and to do it well, even if they aren’t the expert in that area.

Managing and valuing your organization’s volunteers is the key to a successful and sustainable organization.


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