Your volunteer organization works hard to make a difference in your community and beyond. You and many others dedicate time, energy, and resources toward your organization’s mission. When you look for volunteers to partner with your mission, you want to find people who will work toward those goals with as much dedication as you do.
Volunteers provide valuable services and help your organization spread positive change. Around 25% of Americans volunteer, but it takes some unique characteristics to make a volunteer exceptional. When recruiting new volunteers, look for some common volunteer traits that make them effective at accomplishing their goals.
The 20 Best Volunteer Traits to Look for
Recruiting effective volunteers involves finding people to fill supportive roles and inspire those around them. Quality volunteers are valuable. When you find the right volunteers who work hard to make a difference, your organization can provide more services to your community, encourage other volunteers to serve, and improve your fundraising efforts.
Here are the top 20 traits to look for in a volunteer:
1. They Are Organized
Your organization is likely involved in several volunteer opportunities, programs, and events. You have a lot to juggle, and when you prepare for a volunteer event, you want volunteers to accomplish tasks effectively so you can maximize their impact.
You need volunteers who have a broad perspective on their volunteer work. A volunteer should be able to follow directions and stay on task to help keep things running smoothly. Finding organized and efficient volunteers can help you magnify your organization’s impact on its community.
2. They Are Courageous
Being a volunteer often involves stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and taking on new challenges. Whether it’s meeting new people through community outreach, mentoring kids at a local school, visiting with the elderly, or participating in disaster cleanup, volunteers will likely be called upon to do things they haven’t done before.
A good volunteer will approach these situations with bravery. Other people might shy away from certain tasks due to discomfort or fear. The best volunteers will gather their courage, even if they are a little hesitant, and do what needs to be done, all with a positive attitude.
3. They Have Incredible Patience
Social skills are vital for any volunteer. Whether your organization focuses on helping people or not, volunteers will be working with other members of the organization. Acting and speaking with patience will help smooth activities even when they don’t go according to plan.
Even the best-organized program sometimes encounters downtime. A good volunteer will accept delays and make the best use of their time anyway. They are also easy-going, even under challenging situations. A great volunteer will recognize when a child, an individual with special needs, or a senior citizen requires some extra patience.
4. They Have a Team Player Mindset
Volunteering is all about working toward a goal or cause bigger than yourself. Building a highly functioning team enables you to accomplish a lot more than you could as an individual. It takes teamwork to drive significant changes, and a cooperative attitude will take new volunteers far.
When you recruit volunteers, look for those with a team player mindset. Working well with others and strengthening the team are important skills in a collaborative environment like a volunteer organization. Good volunteers will stay focused on their goals, effectively encourage those around them, and maintain their positivity even if the team experiences some setbacks.
5. They Are Boundlessly Creative
Creativity and imagination are great volunteer traits. When resources are limited, it takes thinking outside of the box to accomplish tasks and make a difference. Organizations rely heavily on volunteers who can see the big picture and discover a creative way to get from point A to B.
A good volunteer does their work well and can sometimes think of new solutions to accomplish goals. For example, a volunteer at an educational institution may be able to take ordinary materials and turn them into an educational tool. With an imaginative spirit, volunteers can overcome obstacles and help your organization thrive.
6. They Are Passionate
Passion about and conviction in a cause drive your organization to do what it does. It’s why you and other administrators put in the time to meet your goals. When situations don’t go according to plan, you need volunteers driven by the same passion.
People passionate about your mission and your organization will be excited about volunteering each day, even when their job is to accomplish seemingly mundane tasks. Their passion for the cause will drive them forward. They will also have the ability to excite others and motivate them to give or serve, magnifying your impact.
7. They Have Compassion for Others
Volunteering for any cause carries an array of challenges and introduces volunteers to new people and circumstances. Cultural differences, language barriers, living situations, and more can all present an opportunity for volunteers to display their compassion for others.
Compassion is one of the best volunteer traits to find in a person. A great volunteer welcomes differences and uses empathy to understand others’ life experiences. Whether a volunteer speaks with a person who has experienced loss, helps out at an animal shelter or zoo facility, or educates others about environmental change, they need to exercise compassion for those in vulnerable situations.
8. They Take Initiative
Your volunteer organization probably always has plenty of work to go around. Volunteer supervisors are usually too busy to directly oversee every task that needs to be accomplished. Great volunteers will begin taking initiative after they’ve familiarized themselves with the scope of their work, so they can lighten others’ loads and be proactive.
Outstanding volunteers will find ways to go above and beyond for the people and mission they serve. They will be able to discern which problems they should take to their supervisor and which they can solve on their own. Then, they will begin working on getting things done.
9. They Stay Humble
The best volunteers recognize that while they might have considerable volunteer experience or know a lot about a particular topic, they still have a lot to learn. Humility is an important trait. When volunteers stay humble, they can take themselves out of the situation and focus on the people and mission they serve.
Humble volunteers will usually be more interested in learning about your organization and the community it serves than boasting about their accomplishments. Their attitude puts them in an excellent position to learn from others and contribute to the goal.
10. They Are Committed to Your Cause
Many organizations struggle with volunteer retention. Finding volunteers who are genuinely committed to your cause and whose values align with your organization can help improve your retention rate and keep volunteers engaged.
Volunteers often have grand ideas of the change they can make in the world through their service. However, it can be challenging to see the end goal, and tasks might become a chore when reality sets in. A volunteer committed to your organization’s mission will see their work through to the end, knowing that even a small action makes a lasting impact.
11. They Are Always Dependable
If your organization is like most, the work of volunteers keeps your doors open so you can continue to serve your community. Because you depend on volunteers, their reliability is critical. If a volunteer commits their time and energy to your organization, you want them to follow through.
When recruiting volunteers, it is essential to determine if they can fulfill their commitment. For example, they should have means of transportation to show up to the correct location on time. To find dependable volunteers, ask long-term helpers if they have any connections who might like to contribute.
12. They Take Learning Opportunities
Volunteering is an excellent way for someone to learn new skills, cultivate empathy, and create lasting change for the cause they care about most. Great volunteers are eager for opportunities to learn and grow as individuals.
Learning opportunities are abundant in volunteering. Whether it’s stepping outside of their comfort zone or taking the opportunity to learn from someone who has been volunteering long-term, good volunteers are excited to learn. They will also be willing to take on new roles. These kinds of volunteers are excellent candidates for a promotion in their responsibilities and can make a long-term impact.
13. They Have an Energetic Attitude
One of the best volunteer traits is an abundant supply of energy. Volunteering can be difficult work. If your volunteers perform physical labor like cleaning up after a natural disaster, they will need physical energy to help them get through the day. Other tasks can be emotionally or mentally taxing.
An energetic volunteer creates a better environment for everyone. Their optimism and enthusiasm for their work often spread to others, motivating them toward positive action. When days are long and tasks seem tedious, someone enthusiastic about the mission will remind everyone why they are involved with your cause.
14. They Are Flexible
Organizations recruit volunteers to do all kinds of work, and it often varies daily. For example, you might recruit someone highly skilled for a technical job one day, and the next need them to break down cardboard boxes. You will also likely experience many situations where events don’t go as you planned.
Look for flexible volunteers. They should have an open mind and want to be of service in working toward your mission. These volunteers aren’t as concerned about playing a particular role — they can accept when plans change and are comfortable pivoting to make the best of those changes.
15. They Are Selfless
Selflessness is an important trait to have as a volunteer. After all, volunteering involves giving up one’s time to help others accomplish a goal.
A volunteering experience can be enriching and build a person’s resume. However, the focus should always be on the people or cause you are serving. You want to find volunteers who will put their own needs aside and help others. A selfless volunteer will often do more than is asked of them, help out when needed, and look for new ways to make an impact.
16. They Are Motivated
Most volunteer organizations have an endless supply of tasks for their volunteers to accomplish. When your volunteers arrive for work, you want them ready and driven to accomplish as much as they can. This way, everyone is looking forward to being productive and excited to make an impact.
A good volunteer does the work asked of them, and often a little more. Some volunteers will go about their tasks or assignments with little motivation. However, the self-motivated and internally driven ones will look for ways to significantly impact their project.
17. They Can Work Independently
All volunteers will need guidance when they first start. They need to be told where supplies or offices are located and how to accomplish specific tasks. They may even require some special training to work toward goals in the best way. Once a volunteer has gotten accustomed to their role, they should begin working independently.
Developing open communication among your volunteers is crucial for building a teamwork mindset and helping people when they get stuck. However, a good volunteer won’t need to be constantly told what to do or how to do it. They can work independently and manage their time efficiently to ensure that all work gets done.
18. They See the Good
In your organization’s line of work, you might encounter difficult situations. Sometimes, events and workdays might be derailed or delayed, or a setback could occur that demotivates the entire team. When issues arise, you want volunteers who will keep a positive outlook.
Seeing the good in situations and people is a valuable skill. It takes a thoughtful and deliberate mindset to look at the positive when it seems hard to find. Volunteers with this attitude will help everyone remember why they are committed to your mission and why they should keep pushing forward.
19. They Are Great Leaders
Your organization’s administrators and supervisors aren’t the only leaders heading up work for your mission. With all these qualities and more, the most exceptional volunteers often stand out from the rest and lead by their example.
Leaders inspire others and motivate them to action. Volunteers who are natural leaders are great at training others to accomplish tasks and help your organization optimize its operations. These volunteers can do more than follow instructions — they can also mobilize others to meet goals and empower them to take on new challenges.
20. They Make Their Communities Better Places
Some of the best volunteers have a history of volunteer experience. People invested in making their community a better place are often busy working toward that goal, getting involved in several causes they care about, and doing everything they can to help those around them.
Whether a potential volunteer has experience or not, their work with your organization is an excellent opportunity to impact your shared community. With guidance and leadership, good volunteers can create lasting positive change in the world around them.
Learn How Volgistics Can Help You Manage Volunteers
Although volunteerism is a voluntary, unpaid commitment, it is still crucial to find the right people to fill your roles. When recruiting your next volunteers, look for people with passion, energy, selflessness, motivation, humility, and dependability. Having the right volunteers supporting your organization can make a world of difference.
If you need support managing volunteers at your organization, Volgistics can help. We are a highly customizable volunteer management platform serving organizations of every size and industry. You can use our volunteer management software to track, recruit, communicate with, and schedule volunteers, so you can improve their experience as they use their skills to help your organization.
Volgistics is user-friendly software with an affordable monthly subscription, no upfront costs, and free unlimited support. Contact us at Volgistics to learn how we can help you manage your volunteers. You can also start a free trial today and discover what Volgistics can do for your organization.