Volunteers: Love Them or Leave Them

I have worked with hundreds of volunteers in my career. They come in all shapes and sizes. They also come with diversity of age, race, sex, religion and a variety of other factors.

You hope volunteers have a passion for your cause and a willingness to freely give their time, talent and treasure without reservations. No two volunteers are alike. Only with experience can a professional truly learn to maximize the positive experience for the volunteer and staff working with the volunteer. Each experience is never the same in duration, intensity and ultimate results.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 64.5 million adults, or 26.5 percent of the adult U.S. population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $175 billion dollars in 2012. Independent Sector notes that the value of volunteer time in 2013 was $22.55 per hour.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the following in its Volunteering in the United State – 2013 report:

  • 62.6 million people volunteered for an organization at least once between September 2012 and September 2013
  • Volunteer rates declined by 1.1 percentage points to 25.4 percent for the year ending in September 2013
  • 35- to 44-year-olds were the most likely to volunteer (30.6 percent of total)
  • Whites volunteered at 27.1 percent and blacks at 18.5 percent
  • Married people volunteered at 30.7 percent and those never married at 20 percent
  • 39.8 percent of college graduates volunteered
  • Most volunteers were only involved in one or two organizations
  • The highest percentage of volunteers served religious organizations (33 percent), followed by education/youth (25.6 percent) and social service/community service (14.7 percent)

A key to volunteer success for your organization is how you motivate volunteers. Several authors highlight what they feel are motivation tools for volunteers. According to consultant Thomas McKee, providing on the job training, being available to assist volunteers and providing positive feedback is a must. He notes you need to “stimulate that inner motivation.”

Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last seven years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 23 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 30 years. He received his doctorate from West Virginia University with an emphasis in philanthropy, masters from Marshall University with an emphasis on resource development and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with emphasis in marketing/management. Currently he is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. Contact Duke at dhaddad324@gmail.com.

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