Promoting Volunteers to Greater Responsibility

Promoting Volunteers to Greater Responsibility

Your organization values all of your volunteers, but some stand out as ready to step up and assume new levels of responsibility. Promoting those who are ready and willing not only fills vital leadership roles, but it keeps volunteer satisfaction levels high. Additionally, when these experienced volunteers are challenged, they’re more likely to remain with your organization.

How Do I Know When It’s Time to Promote?

One straightforward way to recognize the time for promotion is an open role. However, the indications that greater responsibility is warranted often come from the volunteers themselves. While many volunteers might be perfectly content to donate their time doing simple but necessary tasks, others will have their eyes on more challenging roles. As a volunteer coordinator, you should recognize and remember these individuals whether you have an available role or not. You’ll want to remember them when a position opens up.

Volunteers Are Eager for New Challenges

Some people thrive best within the framework of a routine and find comfort in completing tasks they understand and frequently perform. While these individuals provide an invaluable contribution, take note of those who are excited to try new things and who welcome added responsibility. Be sure to record when and how they’ve accepted and met new challenges using a volunteer database.

The Volunteer Internalizes Your Organization’s Values

Volunteers join an organization for various reasons, including mandated commitments like community service hours or to pad a college application or resume. Others join because of a deep belief in your organization’s mission, and for still others, it’s some combination of factors. For example, a high school student might want to add to their college application but choose an organization like Mercy For Animals over others because of a deep-seated belief system. Some volunteers might come to your organization with a passion for its values, and others may develop that passion over the course of their work. Either way, volunteers who are invested in your success might be ready to take a more active role.

When Challenges Arise, Volunteers Handle Them Gracefully

No matter how skilled, intelligent, or dedicated a volunteer may be, some setbacks and failures are inevitable. How a volunteer handles failure can be as enlightening as how they handle success. It might be time for promotion when a volunteer takes responsibility for a failure, takes steps to avoid a future occurrence, and uses the situation as a learning opportunity.

What Should I Look For in a Candidate for Promotion?

What Should I Look For in a Candidate for Promotion?

Sometimes a volunteer will stand out as ready for promotion, but other times, your organization will have a role to fill from the talent you have. How can you assess your current volunteers, and what qualities indicate they’re ready for the next step?


Leadership is a somewhat nebulous term, but you can identify this quality by watching how volunteers interact with the rest of the team. Do they propose solutions when problems arise? Do they help to direct others diplomatically? Do they inspire others to reach their full potential? Are they adept at organizing and delegating responsibility on more significant projects? If so, they may be ready to assume a leadership role.

People Skills

Like leadership, “people skills” are tough to define and challenging to teach. However, you can often identify them by the reactions of other team members. Is your candidate someone others like to work with and be around? Do they mentor others and provide valuable feedback? Are they skilled at resolving conflicts? If so, that person might be someone that others in the organization can look to for guidance and inspiration.


A volunteer might excel at completing tasks, doing administrative work, keeping records or other solitary pursuits. But when it comes to selecting someone for a leadership position, certain soft skills might be as, if not more, important than quantifiable ones. In fact, instead of a high performer, you may want to consider a volunteer who has deep connections with others on the team, great relationships with them, and the ability to understand and relate to not only teammates but also the other people your organization serves.

Strategies for Retaining Skilled Volunteers Long-term

The longer volunteers remain with your organization, the more knowledge and experience they build. Because their commitment to your mission can also evolve, it’s immensely beneficial to retain volunteers long-term. Just as it is with paid employees, high volunteer turnover is detrimental to your organization. Volunteer recruitment is time-consuming, and training new volunteers requires far more resources than retaining volunteers. How can you keep volunteers happy in your organization, and how does it relate to delegating volunteer roles and responsibilities?

Know and Appreciate Their Goals

When someone signs on with your organization, you will probably ask them what kinds of volunteer activities they’re interested in and assign their duties and responsibilities accordingly. It’s important to be aware that volunteers’ needs and aspirations can change over time. Be sure to schedule time to meet with volunteers and determine whether they are happy in their current roles or if they hope to take on more challenging volunteer work and greater responsibility. This is something else you can track and update using a volunteer tracking system, and you can even search your database according to age, experience, skillset, and much more.

Avoid Stagnation

Boredom on the job leads to dissatisfaction. Employees might be willing to soldier through because of their need for income, but volunteers have no such incentive. So, it’s essential that you monitor their attitudes and performance to ensure they’re feeling properly challenged. Note that many volunteers may be perfectly content to perform the same duties for months or even years, especially if it’s a task they enjoy. Others will become dissatisfied if they are not given the opportunity to learn new things.

Provide Appropriate Challenges

Some people will never be satisfied in their work without challenges to overcome or the sense of victory that follows. However, placing volunteers in situations where they will constantly fail to meet challenges will lead to frustration. As a supervisor or volunteer coordinator, you will be walking a fine line between these two extremes with certain volunteers — all the more reason to keep detailed records in a database so you can assign volunteer duties and responsibilities appropriately.

Show Specific Appreciation

It’s obviously crucial to show gratitude to people who are spending time with your organization when they could be spending it elsewhere, but be specific with praise, as it feels more genuine. Instead of thanking people for participating in volunteer activities generally, compliment them on their skill at motivating others, their organizational abilities, or their contributions to a certain project.

Managing Volunteer Responsibilities with Volgistics

Volgistics makes it easy to track, schedule, and communicate with volunteers using a cloud-based system with no need for software installation. Visit us for a free tour to learn more about how we can help you refine the entire volunteer process.

Managing Volunteers With Volgistics