Place Volunteers Where They Are Motivated & Skilled

An essential part of ensuring volunteers stay at a nonprofit organization long-term is helping volunteers serve in areas that they are motivated and skilled.

My wife once went to work at a local Homeless Gospel Mission near where we lived. As someone with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and a master’s degree in Social Work she was excited to use some of her skills to help counsel, encourage, and support clients of the Gospel Mission. However, after my wife had clearly explained her professional experience and ideal area for volunteering to the volunteer coordinator, my wife was placed in the waiting room of the Gospel Mission where she was supposed to talk and just “hang out” with clients. Every time she showed up she was expected to randomly walk up to clients who were waiting to receive services and talk. No formal introduction was given from the Gospel Mission for my wife, no support from the staff about what my wife was supposed to do, and no understanding of the skills my wife had and what she could offer.

Do you think my wife continued volunteering for long? Of course not! She left only a week or two after she realized this Gospel Mission was not using her skills and experience in a way to help clients.

Most of the time people are willing to jump in and help a good cause even if the work is something that is uninteresting to them. However, if you want to have volunteers stay and serve for a long period of time you have to find ways to place your volunteers in areas they are motivated and skilled.

Energy flows from passion. A God-given passion—an area of intense interest—lies buried within each of us. One of the goals of volunteer experimentation is to discover that passion. Connecting our spiritual gift with an area of passion is the key to ultimate effectiveness and fulfillment in serving. It’s also one of the keys to maintaining energy when serving. When you are serving an area of passion, nobody has to fire you up to stay involved; you can’t help but show up. It feels like recess, when the bell rings and you get to do your favorite thing.
Bill Hybels, The Volunteer Revolution, pp. 81-82

In today’s post I show you some basic ways you can get your volunteers plugged into areas that they are passionate and skilled.


Volunteers need to be placed in areas that they are passionate to serve. You can find volunteers passion either by the area in which the volunteers serve or the task which the volunteers do.

Leadership Strengths

How to Leverage People’s Strengths

As a follow up to my post yesterday about the importance to motivate, don’t manipulate people who you are leading, today I am sharing the most powerful way you can motivate people to work with you. Whether they are staff, volunteers, or a board member, this method will be extremely important to employ if you are serious about motivating people and keeping them engaged with your mission long-term.

Flickr Photo Credit: faceleg
Flickr Photo Credit: faceleg

Leadership expert and author, John C. Maxwell believes “people’s purpose in life is always connected to their giftedness.” When leading people it is extremely important to know what their strengths are because this helps you tap into their passion and the area they want to work in.

2 Reasons Leveraging People’s Strengths is Important


Focus on Your Strengths


Great leaders know their strengths.

Discovering your strengths might come to you suddenly after a little thought and effort, or they might start to slowly be revealed to you over a long period of time.  The process will be different for everyone.

In my book I share that I four strengths:

  1. Visioning – Seeing the future of what God wants me to create and do to further His kingdom.
  2. Thinking – Generating ideas and concepts that will help that vision to become real.
  3. Communicating – Communicating that vision and ideas to a group of people either in writing or speaking.
  4. Creating – Make daily progress on that vision to create new things and new services to help people.

While you go through your own strengths to discover them you might not end up with four. That just happened to be the ones I ended up with. You might have six, ten or two.  However many you feel you have is fine because there is no right or wrong amount of how many strengths you have.

When discovering your strengths, focus on qualities and characteristics, not on tasks and activities. This is important because a task and activity can often be part of a quality or characteristic. But a quality or characteristic isn’t going to be part of an activity or task.  Notice that my four strengths are primarily qualities I possess. I have great vision, I’m a good thinker, I’m a good communicator, and have the ability to create things.

An example is that I’m a good communicator in many ways. I’m a good communicator when it comes to being diplomatic and helping to find common grown with people. I’m also pretty good at connecting with a person when we’re talking one to one and I’m able to build some rapport to where we feel that we understand each other. And I’m decent at communicating to a group of people. I know how to prepare to speak, I understand how what I say will be perceived, and I know how to use my body language and tone of voice to communicate what my words mean.  As you can see, being a good communicator is a quality that I possess.  But it’s not an activity.  

There are many activities that can take place within that one quality so do your best to find your strengths that are qualities, not just tasks.

Question: What are your strengths?



Notes from Andy Stanley at Catalyst West

By far my favorite talk at the Catalyst West Leadership Conference was Andy Stanley.  Man, so many of the talks he gives feel as if the talk was developed exclusively for me.

Here’s a few thoughts from Andy.

Only do what only you can do.


What are your strengths?

There's been a lot of talk over the past decade about strengths, talents and gifts.

In Christian and faith based circles this is probably even more common. A search on Amazon for "spiritual gifts" yielded 2,195 results!

There's tons of different strengths assessments and different tools to help you discover your strengths. Many of them are very good and can help you discover and become more clear on your strengths and what God's placed you here to do.

However, even after doing all the strengths assessments. I've found the single best assessment of my strengths has been to discover them for myself.

As I prayed about my strengths, it was very difficult to find what my strengths were. It's easy to take a test and have someone else tell you what your strengths are, but it's much more difficult to have to discover it on your own.

After much prayer, thought, effort, and dialogue with others, I've established that I have four strengths:

  1. Visioning – Seeing the future of what God wants me to create and do to further his Kingdom
  2. Thinking – Generating ideas and concepts that will help that vision to become real
  3. Communicating – Communicating that vision and ideas to a group of people either in writing or speaking
  4. Creating – Make daily progress on that vision to create new things and new services to help people

Discovering your strengths, talents and gifts as a leader can work wonders on your leadership. Especially if you're able to develop and deploy your gifts, then teach others in your organization to do the same.

What are your strengths?