At the center of any nonprofit you’ll find volunteers fulfilling tasks that are both vital to the organization and unfeasible without volunteer help. Volunteers broaden the scope of what’s possible for a nonprofit and they do it with zeal.
I’ve been in some sort of volunteer management for over 10 years. It started out as a 10 hour a week gig, “something to help my husband out.” Before you knew it, I was working 40 plus hours a week recruiting, training and scheduling volunteers. I look back over my years of volunteer management with nothing but joy and amazement.
It’s incredible to me how people show up in our warehouse to do who knows what week after week. Some simply need community service hours for college, others come for the organized process and many families come desiring to give back and teach their kids generosity.
When I say, “to do who knows what…” I mean every week we have different projects and sometimes many different projects. We bag groceries, we sort cans, we package food and we even fold donated uniforms! Honestly, folding clothes is something I’d like to be paid to do at home, yet the Convoy of Hope volunteers come and do it with smiles on their faces! I get excited about that.
Disasters create a need for volunteers too and the work these volunteers do should be on the show “Dirty Jobs.” Ripping out nasty carpet from a flooded basement and moving filthy waterlogged furniture after a hurricane come to mind. Volunteers do this stuff! These are people who want to be there to help in a time of need and don’t expect anything in return. Can you tell I’m excited yet?
I’ve been to community outreaches when it’s a blazing 100 degrees. There are times as staff member I really just want to be inside in air-conditioning with my feet up, but as I watch volunteers serve the underserved in their community I’m inspired. The joy and enthusiasm of a volunteer at an outreach is second to none. Whether they’re performing on a stage, distributing groceries, standing security or putting new shoes on the feet of a guest of honor, our volunteers exude nothing less than a joyful spirit and a happy heart.
I often ponder a question as I make a plea for volunteers. How can I make people want to help us, what about this event will lure a volunteer? I’ve learned it has a lot less to do with the work to be done and a lot more to do with the volunteer’s desire to help get it done. Basically, my job is to notice needs and then say, “hey, we need your help,” at which point incredible volunteers show up ready to go. Pretty cool.