What makes a good volunteer? The 10 qualities to look out for when recruiting
As you begin creating a volunteer recruitment plan, you may be thinking, ‘the more, the merrier’. But it's worth spending some time getting to know your potential volunteers during the recruitment process to ensure you find volunteers with the right qualities to add real volunteer value to your team.
Being able to recognise a good volunteer in the making will help improve your retention rate and ensure you onboard committed and reliable volunteers, ultimately ensuring your organisation can deliver an even greater impact.
So what makes a good volunteer? Here are ten qualities of a volunteer to look for when recruiting volunteers for your organisation.
Are you a volunteer? Read about the 15 volunteer skills that can help you land your dream job.
1. What makes a good volunteer? #1 quality is Passion
Passionate people have probably got your organisation to where it is. So to keep up the momentum, it’s important to find people who share your organisation's values, goals and mission.
People that are passionate about your cause will want to share your mission with everyone they know, encouraging others to get involved and motivated to give. You may even find extra-passionate volunteers who have a personal attachment to the cause and the project’s mission. That’s why passion is the most important part of any volunteer personality.
Question to ask potential volunteers: “What do you already know about what we do?”
Many non profits simply couldn’t operate without their volunteer army. For most, finding a good volunteer who is reliable and committed is the difference between achieving goals or not. During the recruitment process, make sure you clearly define the time commitment you expect and ensure volunteers have the available time and tools (such as a car, or childcare) to be able to attend volunteer shifts.
Question to ask: Ask long-term volunteers if they know anyone that would be interested in volunteering.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Recruiting people who work well with others is one of the key qualities that makes a good volunteer. The best volunteers are comfortable working in ever-changing teams, with people from all different walks of life, and taking on both the leader and the follower role at different times.
Finding ways to create and nurture friendships (through social events, social media groups or rewards and recognition) will go a long way to improving your organisation’s team culture.
Question to ask: "What role do you normally take when working in a team?"
An endless reservoir of patience is one of the important qualities of a good volunteer. Most charities and non profit organisations are juggling a hundred things at once, so not everything moves as quickly as expected. So it’s important to find volunteers who are willing to be patient, stick it out, and never stop persisting. Patience is also important for volunteers who will be interacting with children, older adults or community members with special needs.
Question to ask: "What qualities or skills do you possess that make you a good volunteer?"
Recruiting volunteers who are open-minded and creative will bring a fun and exciting spirit to your organisation. Whether volunteers are running camps for children or selling raffle tickets, injecting a dose of creativity into the role will put a smile on everyone’s face. While maybe not as imperative to the job as other qualities on our volunteer skills checklist, creativity is a great bonus.
Question to ask: "What do you do to fuel your creativity?"
Many volunteer roles are physically and mentally exhausting, so make sure your team is full of energetic and enthusiastic volunteers. Certain roles will be more physical than others, so it’s important to include that in the volunteer job description to recruit volunteers who are up to the task. Don’t forget, one of the surprising benefits of volunteering is the massive upside it has on physical and mental health.
Question to ask: "How would you rate your physical fitness?"
7. Positive attitude
Volunteers are often pushed out of their comfort zone as they learn new skills and face new challenges. They may also be volunteering with vulnerable members of the community who have been through adversity, so it’s important to recruit volunteers who are able to stay positive and remain focused on the task at hand. A positive volunteer personality will have a wonderful impact on your team and the community.
Question to ask: "How do you deal with adversity?"
8. Willingness to help
Finding volunteers who are willing to help out, regardless of the task, will make your job as a volunteer manager so much easier. A willingness to change roles at the last minute, show a new volunteer how to check in using volunteer software, or stay an extra hour to help pack down are priceless qualities that really make a good volunteer, however, it’s also a tricky quality to recruit for. Keep an eye out for volunteers who reply to emails promptly, complete training modules ahead of time and those that apply for multiple volunteer roles.
Question to ask: "What qualities are important as a volunteer?"
At its core, volunteering is a selfless gesture. By giving their time, skills or resources to someone in need, volunteers are already practising compassion. At the same time, someone with a naturally compassionate and empathetic volunteer personality will be a true asset to your team and your program recipients.
Question to ask: "Tell me about a time you’ve gone out of your way to help someone."
Volunteers who are organised and on time will save you a lot of headaches and time down the track. From completing training without needing a reminder, to arriving at shifts on time, effective time management is an important, and underrated quality in good volunteers. While it’s a hard one to recruit for, volunteers who arrive for interviews or training on time is a big indication of how organised they are.
So, what makes a good volunteer?
Even though volunteering is an unpaid commitment, it is still crucial to find people who take the responsibility seriously. To sum up what makes a good volunteer, looking for volunteers who are passionate, reliable, team players, patient, creative, energetic, positive, willing to help, compassionate and organised will ensure they are great assets to your team.
Read more about the top 5 ways to recruit volunteers specifically for non-profits.
Treating your volunteers as valued members of your team will keep them engaged and help you retain them for years. A well-thought-out volunteer management plan will help you streamline your volunteer program so you, and your volunteers, are getting the most out of it.
Check out Rosterfy’s purpose-built volunteer management software that can handle scheduling, recruiting, training, communication, check in and check out and reporting.
Get in touch with us to book a demo today.