Resources for Leaders of Volunteers

The following information and links are for a series of workshops I am creating for the Center for Nonprofit Management. This fall I will be conducting a series of workshops on the following topics:

  1. How to Find Volunteers
  2. How to Lead Volunteers
  3. How to Keep Volunteers

I hope you find these resources helpful.

Qualities of a Leader

“7 False Assumptions About Introverts”
Many people incorrectly believe that extroversion is a quality of a leader while introversion is a quality of a follower. This post provides some of those false assumptions and helps readers see that introverts are good leaders too.

“Has your humility turned into pride?”
An article from the Catalyst Conference on the importance of leaders staying humble. Written by Jennie Allen.

“Charisma Is Optional, Character and Competence Are Essential”
Rick Warren nails this! I firmly believe that charisma is incorrectly associated as a leadership quality. It can be a quality of a leader, but it is not essential. In this post Rick Warren explains why.

“7 Reasons Introversion Works Well for Me as a Senior Leader”
A helpful explanation of how an introvert can lead and lead well.

“A Critique of Critical Leaders” 
Linda Sasser provides some examples of what critical leaders do and some practical tips to that will help you avoid being critical when providing coaching to employees.

Volunteer Recruitment

“What You Can (and Should!) Post on VolunteerMatch”
Lists eight definitions and descriptions of what VolunteerMatch “is” and “isn’t” as a way to help you effectively write volunteer postings on VolunteerMatch.

“Phone Tips for Better Volunteer Recruitment”
Using the telephone to “call” volunteers still works. This post provides six simple tips that will help improve your volunteer recruitment efforts using the telephone.

“11 Ways to Make Your Booth Stand Out”
Some simple tips to help you maximize your volunteer recruitment efforts when staffing a booth.

“How Writing a Volunteer Listing is Like Being in Grade School”
Volunteer Match shares their research that out of 100 volunteer recruitment listings 100 of them had spelling errors and 80 of them had grammar errors. So they provide some basic helps for creating a volunteer listing for recruitment.

“A New Facebook App for Finding Volunteer Opportunities”
The Points of Light Foundation reveals the new Facebook app by All for Good which allows nonprofits to post volunteer opportunities within their Facebook page.

“VolunteerMatch and LinkedIn Built a Technology Bridge to the Future of Skilled Volunteering”
Utilize this new technology that allows volunteer opportunities you post on VolunteerMatch to be displayed on LinkedIn.

“What You Need to Know About Recruiting the Different Generations”
Some helpful tips about what volunteer leaders need to know when recruiting and leading different generations.

“Volunteer Management and Volunteering Attention Words”
This post reveals Yale’s research on the ten best words to use to recruit volunteers.

“3 Ways to Recruit Volunteers for Your Nonprofit”

“3 Things You Need to Know about Background Checks”
Background checks for volunteers are essential. This post explains a few of the topics such as background checks with minors, how long you need to keep the background checks, as well as how often you should re-run a background check.

“Creative, Fun, and Easy Ways to Engage Skilled Volunteers”
These are some ways you might not have considered before such as engaging rich social networks, asking for pro bono work, and using unusual skills.

“Engage, Inform, Recruit: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media to Recruit Volunteers”

“Waiting but Not Idle”
A very thorough article about what to do when you start recruiting volunteers. This article provides practical first steps to follow when volunteers express an interest in volunteering for your organization.

Organizational Culture and Volunteerism

“Just Put That in My Bag”
Meridian correctly labels the way many nonprofit employees incorrectly view volunteers as “extras” or “freebies.”

“4 Steps to Building an Equipping Culture”
A good examination of how to assess your program, look at your organizational mission, and design ways to equip your volunteers.

“Engaging Talent in Best Work”
Some helpful tips for volunteer managers about how to engage highly skilled volunteers.

Generation, Ethnicity, and Social Class Differences Among Volunteers

“2014 Millennial Impact Report”
An in-depth research study on the financial giving and volunteering of the millennial generation.

“Volunteering and Civic Life in America”
The Corporation for National and Community Services provides an amazing database of volunteer trends in America, states, regions, and cities.

“Recruiting Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials”
One of the most difficult circumstances to navigate in volunteer coordination is the different ways to recruit, manage, and keep volunteers of different generational and ethnicity backgrounds. This post explains how to recruit volunteers from the three most active generations in America.

“Engaging Youth Is Key to Their Success and Ours”
Some fascinating statistics about the benefits of having youth involved in volunteering.

“87% of Millennials Donated Last Year and You should Stop Calling Them Selfish”
The Huffington Post cites a survey conducted in 2014 showing just how “unselfish” the Millennials actually are.”

“It Takes All Sorts”
The Management4Volunteers Blogs outlines the increasing diversity of volunteers in addition to just “ethnic” diversity. In the post they explain some of the differences among Millennials, Boomers, people with disabilities, as well as corporate and internship programs.

“Please Do Not Leave a Voice Mail: Why Millennials Hate Voice Mail”
A great piece from NPR about why Millennials hate voice mail and do not use it.

Volunteer How-to Articles

“3 Tips for Engaging Volunteers”
Some simple and easy ways to engage your volunteers as a way to build trust and loyalty to your organization.

“Best Practices for Volunteer Orientations”
Effective volunteer programs often start with a volunteer orientation before the volunteer begins service. Here’s a list of five best practices for volunteer orientations.

“How to Deepen Your Impact by Engaging Skilled Volunteers”
VolunteerMatch provides some helpful tips to recruit, screen, and employ volunteers with skills that your organization needs.

“The Difference Between One-Time and Lifelong Volunteers”
A brief case study by the Nonprofit Hub on what differentiates those one-time volunteers from the long-term volunteers.

“7 Ways to Maximize Quiet Leaders”
Despite your best efforts some of the volunteers you lead will be quiet. Here’s seven ways to maximize the work they do.

“Volunteer Management Software: 5 Must-Haves”
VolunteerHub provides a list of five things every organization must have to recruit, manage, and keep volunteers.

“How to Engage Job-Seekers as Volunteers”
VolunteerMatch explains some simple ways that nonprofit organizations can engage job-seekers as volunteers.

Motivating Volunteers

“Volunteer Equity? Three Ways to Build It”
Some practical advice for getting the most productive and efficient use of the volunteers you already have.

“The Top 4 Volunteer Motivators”
Co-author of the book, The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer, Thomas McKee lists four things you can do today as a leader of volunteers to motivate them.

Corporate Volunteerism

“8 Things to Consider When Designing a Cause-Focused Employee Engagement Program”
Some practical tips for employees wanting to get their employees engaged in social service.

“Touch Your Employee Volunteers’ Hearts to Engage Their Bodies and Minds”
Some helpful tips and ideas for corporate volunteer programs and how to engage employees in service. Author Maura Koehler-Hanlon helps corporate volunteer program managers remember that it should not feel “corporate” but that it should feel like “service,”

“Employee Engagement Tips and Potholes”
Some great and practical advice for partners, executives, and employee communication directions for how to engage employees in social service.

“Why Doing Good for Others Does Good for Your Business”
Entrepreneur Magazine has a great article explaining the positive relationship between philanthropy and the bottom-line of business.

“Nonprofit Insights: A 360-Degree View of Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships”
A one-hour video showing the keys to positive and beneficial partnerships between nonprofits and corporations.

“Volunteering Does Your Body (and Your Employees) Good”
This article lists some of the great benefits employers realize their corporate volunteer program has on its employees.

“Announcing the Best in Corporate Volunteer Engagement”
A listing of some of the best corporate volunteer programs. Note: reach out to these companies in order to recruit volunteers!

“Getting Involved Gives Back”
A corporate employee shares her story about corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community.

Leading Volunteers in a Church Setting

“The New Breed (book) List of Resources and Samples”
Provides samples of position charters, volunteer expectations, applications, reference forms, virtual volunteer questionnaires, and more. This is an appendix from the book, The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer (2nd edition) by Jonathan and Thomas McKee.

“Turning Pew Sitters Into the Ministry ‘A’ Team”
Some theology and practical advice for helping congregants see themselves as essential and important team players in a church’s ministry.

“How to Respond When A Volunteer Tells You No”
Some church leaders struggle to know what to say when someone says “no” to serving in the local church. Thankfully, there are several common reasons that people say “no” and this post explains how to respond based on how reasons.

Equip, Don’t Enable
A good article from God Centered Discipleship about the biblical mandate about leaders’ and believers’ roles in the church.

Miscellaneous Articles on Leading Volunteers

“If You Don’t Understand Fluidity, You Don’t Work with Volunteers”
Volunteer Plain Talk Blog explains that when a nonprofit program has more than 50 volunteers it has to drastically change its approach to volunteerism. That change must mean fluidity and flexibility.

“There Are No Shortcuts”
Meridian Swift provides good insight into why and how volunteers need clear and direct instructions.

“Management 601”
A veteran volunteer manager shares why leaders need to be skilled in management (and what happens when they are not).

“Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma!”
The Volunteer Plain Talk blog discusses the need for volunteer managers to have an “open door policy.”

“Little Gray Lies”
Knowing how to navigate difficult situations with our without the truth is important. In this post Meridian shares a story (or two) about how she has had to manage situations and face the dilemma of telling the truth or a “little grey lie.” In this post I appreciate her honesty and transparency.

Great Books about How to Recruit, Lead, and Keep Volunteers

This is a great book about how to recruit, motivate, manage, and lead volunteers of all ages. The authors, Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee, write predominately from a “church ministry” view related to volunteerism, but the book is still very helpful for anyone that leads volunteers.

As a senior past Bill Hybels has written this fantastic book about how to mobilize people within church congregations. He discusses how to prevent burnout in volunteers, how to assess volunteers’ strengths, as well as getting as many people involved in volunteering as possible.


This book focuses more on the history of volunteerism in the church as well as its roots in Scripture. I found this book to be less helpful as a “practical” resource but more of a foundational text on the history of volunteerism.

The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs was originally published in 1970. Some of the statistical and cultural information is slightly dated, but I found many helpful tips in this book related to volunteer recruitment and retention.

As a simple and concise resource this is a helpful book. Even though it was published in 1971 I think it provides some helpful tips for the managers of social service volunteer programs.


This is my book written for new nonprofit programs. It is a great resource for finding programs to partner with, how to recruit volunteers, and how to lead meetings.