Engineer a Volunteer Board For Maximum Community Impact.

Volunteer group hands together

May 12

All organizations–big or small–fundamentally need strong leadership talent to execute their strategy successfully. Ensuring every organization has a steady supply of volunteers is crucial to their success. To meet the challenges, today’s nonprofit executives have demonstrated a “Community Approach,” a collaborative effort to build stronger communities. Everyday organizations work together to make the world work better, by bringing their talents, expertise and resources to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. A volunteer brings all of this to life. Volunteers have an enormous impact on the well-being of communities and organization’s worldwide. Imagine a world without volunteers; a world where local communities fell apart and greed would dominate the streets. Volunteers are ordinary people, who, out of personal and voluntary commitment, are driven to become part of something more challenging. Now how does one craft a volunteer board that is committed to fulfilling the mission of your organization in the community?

A Volunteer in the community’s eye

  • Strengthens communities
  • Brings communities together
  • Works to solve problems
  • Improves the lives of others
  • Builds and sustains relationships
  • Educates the public on important health and safety
  • Shows giving by actions
  • Etc.…

Crafting a Great Volunteer Board

Growing Leaders:  Volunteering takes a person beyond their comfort zone, expanding their everyday perspective. Different life experiences are thrown your way encouraging you to tackle challenges from different angles. As a volunteer you have agreed to step up to the plate and tackle whatever the organization needs. Committing to being a volunteer requires investing time in the community and growth as a leader. According to volunteers, for example, can help nonprofits save money by providing technology service, developing programs, training staff, and conducting strategic planning, all without being paid a salary. Also, nonprofits benefit from volunteers because they, according to

  • Help your organization meet its mission and better serve the community
  • Demonstrate community investment and endorsement
  • Help you reach new audiences and donors
  • Often become individual donors, or even staff
  • Can do things staff cannot do regarding public policy, like endorse your organization to public officials, in editorial pages, as well as comment publicly on legislation or political candidates (as long as they act as individuals, not representatives of your nonprofit)
  • May be preferred over staff by certain population groups you might serve

Clear Communicators: As a leader, one of the most important things to master are great communication habits. There is a difference between being a great talker and being a great communicator.  A good communicator focuses on benefitting others, crafting their message to meet the needs and expectations of those listening.

The majorities of volunteers that give their time to non-profit organizations raise or handle money as a main activity. As a volunteer, you have to communicate to others the mission of the organization and why they should invest their time and money.

Quality Implementation:  Volunteer boards must undertake any tasks that are given to them and carry them forth. Highly skilled volunteers transfer ideas, inspire action, and spread vision throughout the community and organization.

Solid Structure: An organization should have a specific structure in place when bringing in volunteers. Look for volunteers that match the culture of the organization. Make sure to have volunteer position descriptions, a volunteer handbook, policies, procedures, and available supplies and equipment. According to, if nonprofit leaders want highly skilled volunteers to come and stay, they need to expand their vision of volunteering by creating an experience that is meaningful for the volunteer, develop skills, demonstrates impact, and taps into volunteers’ abilities and interests.

Have a specific volunteer plan drafted ahead of time; make sure you have staff at hand that is ready to respond to potential volunteer inquiries. Educate your staff to recruit volunteers, make sure they know the opportunities available within your organization. “Nonprofits must assign volunteer jobs that make the most of their skills and talents. Not only do nonprofits get more value from using highly skilled volunteers to perform highly skilled functions, but also these volunteers are more likely to offer their service again in the future.” (

Diversified Dedication: Depending on the scope of the mission you will probably need diversification in your volunteer board. Either way, it is wise to include people of different opinions, race, culture, language, age, profession, etc. You may need nurses, people with a military background, lawyers, etc. You never know who you may need at any given time (except for the one group you’ll never need—parrots).

Motivated Members: Different things motivate everyone, whether it is the story, the end result, or the satisfaction of giving to something greater than him or herself. Understanding your volunteers and what motivates them will allow you to successfully utilize each volunteer for maximum impact. A great example from explains that one of the best ways that nonprofits can engage volunteers is to create experiences that develop strong attachments between the volunteer and the organization. Volunteers are actively seeking organizations that they feel are most connected with their story. Make the potential volunteer feel an emotional connection to your organization. “The March of Dimes, for example, is invariably thinking about how to channel the interest of a onetime volunteer into a more sustained commitment.” March of Dimes is constantly revising the challenges and opportunities to keep the volunteer involved.



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