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On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~May 2012 ~



Recruiting and Evaluation and Recognition of Volunteers are totally online classes for managers of volunteer programs that begin June 25. Build the most effective program by earning a Certificate in Volunteer Administration from a major research university. Learn more on the Volunteer Today News page




PTSD and the Volunteer

“Volunteers and the Risk of Post traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) is the title of an article in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Volume 22, Number 3, Spring 2012. P.367.  This article reports on the result of exposure to traumatic events on a volunteer while in service.  [This journal is available through most university libraries.]

Here are some findings:

bulletThere are associations between the person’s motivation to volunteer and levels of PTSD.woman on hill

bulletVolunteers who’s initial motivation to volunteer was social seem to deal better with trauma.

bulletBeing part of large group of volunteers also engaged in difficult work seemed to mitigate the trauma.

bulletA more casual volunteer, less grounded in a social group, is more susceptible to symptoms of PTSD.

bulletFriendly discussion following traumatic volunteer service helps volunteers maintain high motivation and deal with difficult situation they may have encountered.


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GoodShop.com is an Internet site designed to funnel money from your online searches and purchases to your favorite charities.  Founded in 2005 it is a Yahoo search engine.  .01 cent is sent to your favorite cause when you search the Internet using this site.  You create a tool bar for your favorite charity and when you purchase something the store donates to the charity.  Special arrangements with online retailers also provide coupons for a buyer to lower the cost of a purchase. Get your organization registered and then alert volunteers to help increase donations. 


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Videos on the Internet are the source of some of the worst in amateur video and some of the best.  Funny is good.  Ask yourself what videos you share with friends and family.  Is it the humorous stuff or pictures of children with distended bellies from starvation?

For a volunteer program or its organization a humorous video can demystify volunteer tasks and appeal to those who say……”If those folks can laugh at themselves, I want to volunteer there.”  Here are some suggestions and tips to do it right.  There are four examples. Three that successfully carry out the message and one that ran afoul of the law.

Be sure to have answers to the questions below before you start and start small for your first effort.  

Arrow What is the goal of the video?

The first video shows volunteers in a historical venue, in period costumes in some cases.  There are humorous  episodes such as  sweeping your yard, churning butter, trying to answer silly questions by visitors.  With incredulous looks from volunteers? This is a humorous look at the life of a volunteer in this organization.  A light-hearted means to recruit.

Stuff Museum Volunteers Say

Arrow Does the concept seem right for the goal?

This video likely used volunteers to send an important organizational message.  Something like this could be the outcome of a volunteer driven project.

Your Man Reminder

Arrow Is the audience likely to respond to a humorous approach?

In this video the “volunteers” are those passing by on a street corner and being asked a question by the videographer.  While the topic is serious the people are drawn in by the apparent silliness of the question, but leave enlightened.  These serendipitous volunteers probably went home and told family and friends what they learned, hence increasing brand recognition for the organization.  The video ends by directing people to where he/she can do something about the cause.

This organization had produced a similar video, without the humor and received less than half of the visits as the more humorous one. 

No Bleepdd
(Defeat Diarrhea)

Path is a global health charity

Arrow Is what you are doing legal?

In this case you will not see the video, but the lead up to it, with lots of volunteers having a great time.  Here the organization used a copyrighted song, without permission.  You can no longer see the finished product.  The organization learned from this to make sure that the legal ducks are in row before proceeding.  It is still fun to watch volunteers and staff work together to create the video.

Take a chance on me

Arrow Who will do the production?

A bad video is a bad video is a bad video!  Using volunteers to do the video taping is good only if that person has lots of experience with such things as lighting, impact of the space on clarity of picture, has professional grade equipment—camera, editing, etc.  If utilizing a volunteer ask to see previous work.

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