Get People To Volunteer

What’s the hardest thing to do as a leader? If you’re like me, it’s finding people to buy in and give their all. There’s many times where we place people into positions thinking they’re a good fit. Only to find out they’re not.

Part of the problem is we assign people to tasks. They’re handpicked by us. We want them for the position.

But are they right for the position?

Instead of choosing people to a job position, begin seeking out volunteers for the position.

Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t pay them. This means we’re seeking out people who are looking to expand their influence and take on greater responsibilities.

Why would we want to seek out volunteers instead of appointing someone to a new position?

Something unique happens when we begin adding volunteers to the team. Our teams start to flourish.

This odd paradox seems to have been lost in the business world. Instead we seek out those we feel should be on the team.

Non-profits have discovered this secrets. Organizations like the Red Cross, the Youth Volunteer Corps, or your local church.

Volunteers bring a special ingredient to work when they come. They bring a passion and desire to do the best work they can.

They know they have something to offer. They feel there’s a cause behind their work. They see purpose.

When you get people to volunteer, they begin to create magic.

There’s enthusiasm and excitement. There’s the sense change is happening.

There’s also the feeling that the team members actually want to be there.

Question: How are you seeking out volunteers for your team? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great insight Joseph! It’s the old, ‘you can lead a horse to water..’ deal.

    I need to get better at seeking volunteers. Either I need to ask or accept help when people offer it. I’ve gotten better at it but there is still some of that ‘man pride’ that makes me think I can John Wayne everything. And I can’t.

    • Sutton, exactly. We can bring our team anywhere we want to. But if they’re not willing to do the work, things aren’t going to be done.

  • I think sometimes we are scared of volunteers because we think they will not be committed or they will be hard to work with. I find that when volunteers are committed to the core values of what you are doing then they often are better to work with than a person who was hired for a position.

    • Caleb, that’s part of the problem. We also refuse to look within our organizations to seek out people who will volunteer for specific roles within the company. What can you do to better seek out volunteers, both paid and unpaid?

      • For me it really comes down to being a better communicator of what the needs are and specific ways people can help.

        • That’s great. Communicating what you need and what you need others to do can help those looking for the opportunities move forward.

  • Great post!
    My only caution is this: Make sure that volunteers are volunteering for the right reasons. In my experience, I have found it best to make sure everyting you said above is true. Sometimes volunteers have political or dubious motive, and it is important to make sure they truly fit the part!

    • Thanks for bringing up the motivation behind volunteering. Sometimes it’s not with the best interest in mind. We’ve got to be mindful of that and look for the honest volunteers.

      • Right on – It’s really important that we find a good “motivational fit” or cultural compatibility – otherwise you find volunteer turnover, potential conflicts (of the not-so-good flavor) and worst of all: someone who really wants the opportunity may miss out!

  • Youth Volunteer Corps

    Thanks for the shout-out for Youth Volunteer Corps, and thanks for a great post highlighting the importance of volunteers. Volunteers can truly change the world!

    • My pleasure. I experienced the pride and joy of working with the YVC in my middle school days. There’s lots of great things coming from the organization. And it’s great to see that those who were leading years ago still doing things within the communities they served.

  • I’m always on the lookout for the team member who steps up into a tough assignment. I’d rather give it to someone slightly less qualified but hungry/eager for it than someone more qualified that passionate about it. I am always asking my coaching clients – what do you feel so strongly enough you would do it for free? Great thoughts tonight, Joe!

    • Wow! This is so true…you really cant teach hunger…and you really cant stop it either

    • Tom, that’s amazing! Sounds like you’re already doing what I walked about in this post.

  • I think initiative is a key factor. I would rather someone I’d have to pull and stop than someone I’d have to push to start.

    • That’s true Mike. The ones who are willing to go and do are better than those who sit and wait.

  • DS

    To me it’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. Seeing which talents, personalities, and interests line up and trying to help them all connect, even if it’s beyond my responsibility, department, or organization.