Problems with Volunteering

People are generally reluctant to step forward and volunteer for a number of reasons:

Fear of time commitment

time constraintsPeople are often reluctant to volunteer because they fear the time commitment i.e. they will “get in too deep”. There is a general view that volunteering is under pressure from the pace of modern life including longer working hours, weekend work, second jobs, and the need for dual incomes in a family.

Volunteer positions are unclear

confusing job descriptionIt commonplace for volunteer positions to be not well defined i.e. role and responsibilities are not adequately described in a position description. People are less willing to volunteer for a position unless they know what is involved and what their time commitment will be. Job descriptions for volunteers dont need to be overly complex.

Voluntary positions are not well promoted

newsletter promotion of volunteer jobCommittee personnel may not have sufficient time or desire to recruit new people for their own voluntary positions. This exacerbates the volunteering problem as existing volunteers may feel obliged to continue when they would rather hand on to new people. Furthermore people will not know that volunteers are wanted unless positions are advertised.

Voluntary positions are “owned”

People tend to not put themselves forward for committee role unless an existing person steps down.  As a consequence existing committee members continue in their positions when sometimes this is not healthy for the organisation. Sometimes committee members with long service feel they own their position on the committee and as a result resent others from standing against them.

Volunteers often need recognition

certificate of appreciationIt is a generally accepted principle that volunteers need recognition and reward for the service they render otherwise their service may be short-lived. Reward does not need to be monetary. Recognition can take the form of simple ceremonies at which volunteers receive commendation in front of members and guests at a special function.

Volunteers need training

Volunteers need training and support to undertake new roles within the organisation. The opporunity for training is a key benefit for being a volunteer. This training can sometimes enhance the job prospects of the volunteer.

High turnover of volunteers

Volunteers can and often do resign their positions and/or walk away from their roles and responsibilities with little warning. All it takes is an adverse comment, or a disagreement with a fellow volunteer, or a decision that does not go their way. Personal problems or pressure at work may also have a significant impact on a person’s ability to continue in a voluntary capacity.

Volunteers are passionate

fight for a causeVolunteers, especially those who put in the greatest time commitment, tend to fight for a cause. They are often not tolerant who show less commitment to the cause than themselves. They tend to assume that their own feelings and passion should be shared by everyone.


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