Volunteers Shouldn’t be Accountable


The mom in charge of planning the class party hasn’t even talked about it yet – and the party is scheduled for tomorrow.


For the third week in a row, the nursery volunteer didn’t show up as scheduled.


The dad who signed up to bring the post-game snacks came without them.


What can you do?


Volunteers shouldn’t be accountable, anyway.  Right?


Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that because someone is referred to as a volunteer, you cannot hold them to any expectations?  It’s easy to be frustrated when volunteers don’t follow through on their commitments.  We know and they know that they aren’t getting paid for this role.  So we really don’t have any recourse, and we shouldn’t expect anything different.




Volunteering should be seen as an opportunity to improve the life of the person doing it.  It’s not about what we want from them – it’s also about what we want for them.


The room mom?

She may discover a love for party planing or even education that shapes her future.


The nursery volunteer?

Learning to communicate with others will develop every relationship she has.


The sports dad?

Seeing that simple things can make the most impact on the lives around us may change his perspective on how he lives.


You should hold your volunteers accountable.


When they miss the mark, you have the opportunity to coach them through something that will impact their future.  When they don’t show up as scheduled, you have the chance to reach out to them and make sure they’re ok.  When your volunteers know that you care about them as a person, you will often see their loyalty increase.


Let’s talk about that nursery volunteer for a moment.  Have you called her?  Did you check to see if she’s ok?  It turns out, she hasn’t been blowing you off – her car was repossessed and she’s too embarrassed to ask for a ride.


The room mom?  She had a miscarriage last week, and can’t stand the thought of being around a room full of children, or answering the questions of the other moms.


The sports dad?  He just plain forgot – but he won’t forget the look in the eyes of his 7 year old son and his lacrosse teammates when they heard there was no snack this week.


Not only do you honor your volunteers when you hold them accountable, you show them their value to your organization. If you communicate that it doesn’t matter whether they fulfill their commitment, how long do you think they will volunteer for you?


So don’t hold your volunteers accountable.  You’ll continue to devalue them and hurt your organization.


Volunteers shouldn’t be accountable.


Unless you want to change your organization, and change the very lives of your people.


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