Telling Your Volunteers’ Stories

Volunteers crave community, and they want to share their experiences. We’re all for creating a community among volunteers – it helps with retention and just makes everyone feel a little more welcome. One of our favorite ways to get out volunteer stories is with a simple interview published on your website, blog or printed in your newsletter. It will make them feel like they’re an important part of your organization, and it will help to showcase your organization’s mission at the same time.

While an organic conversation with a volunteer will lead to the most interesting interview, we also understand that volunteer coordinators don’t always have that much time on their hands. To save time and streamline your interview process, we always suggest a list of simple, go-to questions for your volunteers. A mix of fun personal questions as well as questions pertaining specifically to their volunteer life is a great way to give your team a glimpse into the people they work with.

Below are some of our go-to questions for volunteers, but personalizing them to your volunteer and organization will always lead to a more interesting interview.

1)     How long have you been a volunteer?

2)     Why did you begin volunteering with our organization?

3)     What part of our mission statement do you identify with the most?

4)     What’s your favorite way to volunteer with our organization?

5)     When you’re not volunteering with us, what are you most likely to be doing?

So there you have it, a simple list of questions to get the conversation going with your volunteers. Keep interviews brief and interesting to give your volunteers just a glimpse into the people who make up your team.

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Creating a Great Mission Statement

Your mission statement is the written vision of your organization. A solid statement can tell volunteers what you do and why you do it. A not-so-great mission statement can be a convoluted paragraph of cliches that don’t actually explain anything. When writing out your statement, we think it’s best to follow this simple checklist. 

Why Do You Do It?

Every mission statement should start with the why of your organization. What in the world lead to its creation? Maybe you wanted to bring running enthusiasts together, get good music to the masses or raise awareness around a certain cause. There’s always a reason for your group’s being and understanding it will inspire and empower volunteers. 

How Do You Do It?

This is where you start luring in the type of volunteers you want. If you need energetic people ready to get out there and spread the word of your cause, be sure to mention the boots-on-the-ground mentality that drives your outreach. If you’re looking for people with connections to help grow your group, point out that you strive to find ways for professionals to give back to their communities. Don’t hesitate to directly reference the kind of people who make your volunteer base what it is. 

Whatever It Is You Do, Do You

There’s no need to fall into the trap of sounding like a mission statement. Keep things in your own words to truly get the sound and feeling of your team across. Volunteers aren’t looking for a tailored blurb, they’re looking for an honest representation of your mission. 

Of all of these tips, perhaps the greatest to remember is to keep it short. Your statement should be a quick and easy way to get an understanding of how and why your organization exists. Lay out your philosophy, how and why you make change, and what kind of people you need to help you make it. 

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De-Briefing After Your Event

Finally – that event you worked so hard on is over. It finally feels like it’s time to throw on some slippers, grab a bag of chips and wind down with a glass of wine.

But not so fast.

While you should definitely give yourself a pat on the back, the period after an event can give you an opportunity to debrief both for yourself and your volunteer crew while the event is still fresh in your minds.

A de-briefing session can check on what worked and what didn’t for both you and your volunteers. It’s a positive opportunity to put a variety of minds together for a brainstorming sit-down. It can give you a chance to address concerns, highlight strengths and soak in feedback to better future events. And even if you feel like an event went successfully, you will want to check in with your team and volunteers to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Set aside time, have an agenda and get ready to review your goals both for yourself and your team.


Questions to ask yourself and your volunteers:

  • Get bigger and better

What are things that can be done to make the next event an even bigger success? Think about both the physical planning of the event and the analyzation of your attendee engagement. Could registration go more smoothly? Do you need more parking? Likewise, is there a way to get more attendees to your event? How was your social media language?

  • The good, the bad and the ugly

Take steps to congratulate yourself, acknowledge what could be improved upon and what needs to be thrown to the wayside. Acknowledge yourself and your volunteers for a job well done, but also discuss what didn’t work and how it can change. 

  • Listen and learn

What kind of feedback did the attendees provide – both explicitly and not explicitly? Brainstorm ways to get attendees to provide direct feedback, but also discuss what was observed. Did people struggle finding things? Was one activity particularly popular?

  • Let’s take action

Create a priority list and determine what actions can and should be done. Making a plan of action sets the tone for both yourself and your volunteers that the feedback they provide will be considered and utilized to make future events even better.


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Event Management: Volunteers Needed!

It’s finally summer! The waterparks are packed, the fireworks are over (easy on those leftover bottle rockets, kids) and you, savvy event planner, are in full-swing for this year’s sunny season of festivals, fairs and parades. While you’re busy deciding where to place those water stations and vegan-friendly food vendors, however, don’t forget one key ingredient to your successful event: volunteers.

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Now, we understand that volunteers can be a perplexing (and, well, sometimes frustrating) group to pin down. They run the gamut from teenagers to seniors; some are looking for community involvement, some want a free parking spot. We like to think that most volunteers are passionate about the work they’re doing–if they care to give, odds are, they’re giving because they care. With that in mind, we’ve put together five easy steps you can take to seek out and retain a happy and robust volunteer force.

Step 1: Understand Your Appeal

Don’t undersell yourself. You serve a purpose, you have a mission, and you address a great need. There are certain aspects about volunteering for your organization or event that are unique and therefore appeal to different types of volunteers. Understanding that specific appeal of yours is the first step towards finding the right volunteers for your event. For example, do your volunteers get to interact with children? Can they work outdoors with their hands?

Habitat for Humanity

Perhaps you provide a program wherein your volunteers can incorporate things they already love doing (like running or biking) into peer-mentorship. Maybe you can give them an opportunity to become more actively immersed in a hobby or interest–like directing tours at a history museum or teaching poetry at an inner-city art institute. When you discover that special something about your organization, don’t keep it a secret! Let prospective volunteers know, too. Not sure where they’re hiding? Understanding your appeal allows you to better understand (and find) your ideal volunteer. But now we’re just teasing you with Step 2. Keep posted–more to come!

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