Volunteer Management Blog

learning habit
Karen Knight

The Learning Habit

The most successful leaders of volunteers are those that have developed a learning habit, and invest time and energy in their personal and professional development. Here are a few ways to do that.

Read More
onboarding new volunteers
Karen Knight

Onboarding New Volunteers

Onboarding new volunteers is more than just fire-hosing information at them. It needs to be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Read More
pick two
Karen Knight

Pick Two

There are three attractive aspects to every volunteer program. Unfortunately, you can only pick two. Which one will you let go of?

Read More
Flip the narrative
Karen Knight

Flip the Narrative on Volunteerism

A blog post I read recently got me thinking about how we need to flip the narrative. We need to change how we think about volunteerism by changing the words we regularly use.

Read More
find a community
Karen Knight

Find a Community of Volunteer Professionals

One of the hardest things about being a leader of volunteers is that you are often the only one in an organization. It can feel very isolating. It’s important to find a community of volunteer professionals.

Read More
lead like water
Karen Knight

Lead Like Water

What are some of the attributes of a good volunteer leader? Oddly enough, they are the same attributes that water has. To lead volunteers successfully, lead like water!

Read More
donating time
Karen Knight

Donating Time vs Money

Why is donating time seen as so much less valuable than donating money? Most organizations couldn’t make an impact without volunteers.

Read More
TED Talk
Karen Knight

My Favourite TED Talks

Are you a TED talk watcher? Here are a double-handful of my favourites of the ones that relate to our sector and why I love them.

Read More
rural volunteer programs
Karen Knight

Rural Volunteer Programs

Running a rural volunteer program has its own unique challenges, especially when it comes to recruitment. Here are a few tips that might help.

Read More
families volunteer
Karen Knight

Helping Families Volunteer

We often overlook a key demographic when we recruit. Families. Here are ways to help make it easier and more appealing for families to volunteer with your organization.

Read More
deal with change
Karen Knight

How to Deal with Change

Change is a constant in the social impact sector, but most leaders of volunteers aren’t trained in how to deal with it. Here are some tips.

Read More
gamifying volunteer training
Karen Knight

Gamifying Volunteer Training

It can be hard to motivate volunteers to take (or re-take!) training. Gamifying volunteer training can be an effective way to build their enthusiasm for learning.

Read More
Sea of Volunteers
Karen Knight

A Sea of Volunteers

How much greater would your impact be if you had a whole sea of volunteers? Sound impossible? It all depends on how you look at the challenges that get in the way.

Read More
volunteer lifecycle
Karen Knight

The Volunteer Lifecycle

Knowing the volunteer lifecycle will help keep your program strong and resilient by letting you focus on the key areas that affect how a volunteer sees – and talks about – your organization.

Read More
JAD sessions for volunteer programs
Karen Knight

JAD Sessions for Volunteer Programs

Conducting JAD sessions for volunteer programs may never have occurred to you. You might not even know what one is! But they can be a valuable tool for improving your volunteer program.

Read More
when volunteers quit
Karen Knight

When Volunteers Quit

It can be frustrating when volunteers quit, but it can also be a valuable learning opportunity. Here’s how to find that silver lining.

Read More
complex needs
Karen Knight

When Clients Have Complex Needs

“Levels of volunteering go down when clients have complex needs.” Which means that the most vulnerable among us have less help. Here’s why, and what to do about it.

Read More
effective onboarding
Karen Knight

Effective Onboarding of Volunteers

Having an effective onboarding process for your volunteers can improve your retention and increase your organization’s impact in your community. Here’s a template to help.

Read More
dead horse theory
Karen Knight

Volunteers and the Dead Horse Theory

Have you ever heard of the “Dead Horse Theory”? It’s a concept, unfortunately, that is prevalent in many social impact organizations and volunteer programs. Here’s how you can get a handle on it – without buying a bigger whip!

Read More
volunteer passports
Karen Knight

Volunteer Passports

Volunteer passports are a new idea that might just save leaders of volunteers a ton of time, AND make it easier to recruit.

Read More
hero
Karen Knight

How to Be a Hero

Most of us want to be a hero. Someone who goes out and saves lives. Few of us, though, think that we have the skills or capacity. You might be surprised!

Read More
volunteers buffet
Karen Knight

A Volunteer’s Buffet

Volunteers are drawn to organizations that offer more flexibility and choice in what they do. Try setting up a volunteer’s buffet for them.

Read More
hire volunteers
Karen Knight

Should You Hire Volunteers?

Some organizations hesitate to hire volunteers for staff positions. Or it doesn’t even occur to them! Here’s why I think you should at least have a second look at this pool of potential staff.

Read More
trustees
Karen Knight

Directors vs Trustees

The titles we give people have a vast influence over how they are viewed by the general public. Take, for instance, the difference between “Directors” and “Trustees”.

Read More
investing in volunteers
Karen Knight

Investing in Volunteers

Investing in volunteers isn’t a top priority for most organizations and funding sources. It should be, because not doing it is hurting everyone. Here’s what we can do to help.

Read More
Karen Knight

A New Golden Rule

Are you aware that there’s a new golden rule? People are discovering that treating others the way you want to be treated just isn’t enough.

Read More
volunteer fair
Karen Knight

Volunteer Fair Success

It takes planning & preparation for a table at a volunteer fair to lead to reliable, committed volunteers. Here are some things for you to think about ahead of time.

Read More
appreciation event
Karen Knight

Creating Popular Appreciation Events

Volunteers not attending your appreciation events? If you are spending time and resources in putting on events just for them and they don’t show up, you may need to create the event in a different way.

Read More
feedback
Karen Knight

Feedback vs Feed Forward

Should you provide volunteers with feedback – or feed FORWARD? What are the pros and cons of focusing on the past vs the future? And is it necessary to choose?

Read More
mentor
Karen Knight

Why You Need a Mentor

When trying to learn a new role, or a new skill, nothing is as valuable as a good mentor. Here’s why, and how to find one.

Read More
audit your volunteer program
Karen Knight

Audit Your Volunteer Program

Stop thinking of “audit” as a dirty word. When you audit your volunteer program regularly, you save time and increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

Read More
get more done
Karen Knight

Get More Done – Easily!

Do you find yourself working full out, yet never seeming to get the important things done? Here is a simple way to get more done that has been around for ages – because it works for most people.

Read More
volunteer training
Karen Knight

Supercharge Your Volunteer Training

Are volunteers grumbling about taking training? It’s a common problem. Here are the four most common reasons volunteers dislike training, and four tips to supercharge your volunteer training.

Read More
volunteer quotes
Karen Knight

My Favourite Volunteer Quotes

I decided today to share some of my favourite volunteer quotes and why I love them. From Seneca to Audrey Hepburn, from Malala Yousafzai to Muhammad Ali, here is wisdom distilled into a few lines. I hope you find them as insightful as I do.

Read More
enforcing boundaries
Karen Knight

Enforcing Boundaries

Enforcing boundaries is hard for many leaders of volunteers, but it’s a vital part of having a fair, smoothly-operating volunteer program. And to protecting your mental health!

Read More
technology
Karen Knight

When Technology Takes Over

With the steady increase in automation, more and more tasks are being taken over by technology, sometimes to the detriment of the people who were doing the work. Here’s how to armour your position against cuts.

Read More
saviourism
Karen Knight

Volunteering Without White Saviourism

When people from privileged groups (white, financially secure, male, etc) try to help those less privileged, it’s easy to fall into the trap of saviourism. Here’s what that looks like, and how to avoid it.

Read More
corporate volunteers
Karen Knight

Corporate Volunteers

Involving corporate volunteers can be a key strategy for bolstering your volunteer program. This strategy provides benefits to everyone concerned, from your organization’s cause to the partner company to the volunteers themselves.

Read More
unappreciative clients
Karen Knight

Dealing with Unappreciative Clients

Do volunteers in your organization have to deal with unappreciative clients? Rather than try to instill gratitude in people who are under emotional stress or overload, take a look at the issue from another angle.

Read More
AIDA and Recruiting Volunteers
Karen Knight

AIDA and Recruiting Volunteers

Using the common marketing process, “AIDA”, can help leaders with recruiting volunteers for their organizations. It’s a simple four step way to bring people from being random strangers to becoming volunteers.

Read More
Karen Knight

Building Resilient Volunteers

There isn’t much information out there about building resilience in volunteers. Yet resilient volunteers are the core of a strong program. Here are a few tips on how you can build their resilience.

Read More
enhance your influence
Karen Knight

Enhance Your Influence

The position of leader of volunteers is often seen as a lower-level position. Executives often forget that it’s a vital leadership position. If you want to enhance your influence in your organization, you need to be seen as a leader. Here’s how.

Read More
rural volunteer programs
Karen Knight

Rural Volunteer Programs

Running a rural volunteer program has its own unique challenges, especially when it comes to recruitment. Here are a few tips that might help.

Read More
families volunteer
Karen Knight

Helping Families Volunteer

We often overlook a key demographic when we recruit. Families. Here are ways to help make it easier and more appealing for families to volunteer with your organization.

Read More
Sea of Volunteers
Karen Knight

A Sea of Volunteers

How much greater would your impact be if you had a whole sea of volunteers? Sound impossible? It all depends on how you look at the challenges that get in the way.

Read More
volunteer passports
Karen Knight

Volunteer Passports

Volunteer passports are a new idea that might just save leaders of volunteers a ton of time, AND make it easier to recruit.

Read More
hero
Karen Knight

How to Be a Hero

Most of us want to be a hero. Someone who goes out and saves lives. Few of us, though, think that we have the skills or capacity. You might be surprised!

Read More
volunteers buffet
Karen Knight

A Volunteer’s Buffet

Volunteers are drawn to organizations that offer more flexibility and choice in what they do. Try setting up a volunteer’s buffet for them.

Read More
volunteer fair
Karen Knight

Volunteer Fair Success

It takes planning & preparation for a table at a volunteer fair to lead to reliable, committed volunteers. Here are some things for you to think about ahead of time.

Read More
corporate volunteers
Karen Knight

Corporate Volunteers

Involving corporate volunteers can be a key strategy for bolstering your volunteer program. This strategy provides benefits to everyone concerned, from your organization’s cause to the partner company to the volunteers themselves.

Read More
AIDA and Recruiting Volunteers
Karen Knight

AIDA and Recruiting Volunteers

Using the common marketing process, “AIDA”, can help leaders with recruiting volunteers for their organizations. It’s a simple four step way to bring people from being random strangers to becoming volunteers.

Read More
ideal volunteer
Karen Knight

The Ideal Volunteer

We all want to find amazing helpers, but what specifically do we look for? Here are the three elements that I believe are necessary in an “ideal” volunteer.

Read More
volunteers as ambassadors
Karen Knight

Volunteers as Ambassadors

Are you using your agency volunteers’ skills to the fullest? Strategically involving volunteers as ambassadors will improve your recruitment, raise more donations, and increase your exposure in the community.

Read More
volunteer magnet
Karen Knight

How to Become a Volunteer Magnet

Do you want your organization to be attractive to volunteers? Of course you do. But how? Here is a simple and easy-to-implement strategy to becoming a volunteer magnet.

Read More
finding good volunteers
Karen Knight

Finding Good Volunteers

Finding good volunteers can be hard. By building meaning and flexibility into your program and roles, you can make it much easier!

Read More
onboarding new volunteers
Karen Knight

Onboarding New Volunteers

Onboarding new volunteers is more than just fire-hosing information at them. It needs to be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Read More
gamifying volunteer training
Karen Knight

Gamifying Volunteer Training

It can be hard to motivate volunteers to take (or re-take!) training. Gamifying volunteer training can be an effective way to build their enthusiasm for learning.

Read More
effective onboarding
Karen Knight

Effective Onboarding of Volunteers

Having an effective onboarding process for your volunteers can improve your retention and increase your organization’s impact in your community. Here’s a template to help.

Read More
volunteer training
Karen Knight

Supercharge Your Volunteer Training

Are volunteers grumbling about taking training? It’s a common problem. Here are the four most common reasons volunteers dislike training, and four tips to supercharge your volunteer training.

Read More
find a community
Karen Knight

Find a Community of Volunteer Professionals

One of the hardest things about being a leader of volunteers is that you are often the only one in an organization. It can feel very isolating. It’s important to find a community of volunteer professionals.

Read More
volunteer lifecycle
Karen Knight

The Volunteer Lifecycle

Knowing the volunteer lifecycle will help keep your program strong and resilient by letting you focus on the key areas that affect how a volunteer sees – and talks about – your organization.

Read More
when volunteers quit
Karen Knight

When Volunteers Quit

It can be frustrating when volunteers quit, but it can also be a valuable learning opportunity. Here’s how to find that silver lining.

Read More
complex needs
Karen Knight

When Clients Have Complex Needs

“Levels of volunteering go down when clients have complex needs.” Which means that the most vulnerable among us have less help. Here’s why, and what to do about it.

Read More
dead horse theory
Karen Knight

Volunteers and the Dead Horse Theory

Have you ever heard of the “Dead Horse Theory”? It’s a concept, unfortunately, that is prevalent in many social impact organizations and volunteer programs. Here’s how you can get a handle on it – without buying a bigger whip!

Read More
feedback
Karen Knight

Feedback vs Feed Forward

Should you provide volunteers with feedback – or feed FORWARD? What are the pros and cons of focusing on the past vs the future? And is it necessary to choose?

Read More
get more done
Karen Knight

Get More Done – Easily!

Do you find yourself working full out, yet never seeming to get the important things done? Here is a simple way to get more done that has been around for ages – because it works for most people.

Read More
enforcing boundaries
Karen Knight

Enforcing Boundaries

Enforcing boundaries is hard for many leaders of volunteers, but it’s a vital part of having a fair, smoothly-operating volunteer program. And to protecting your mental health!

Read More
unappreciative clients
Karen Knight

Dealing with Unappreciative Clients

Do volunteers in your organization have to deal with unappreciative clients? Rather than try to instill gratitude in people who are under emotional stress or overload, take a look at the issue from another angle.

Read More
challenging volunteers
Karen Knight

Challenging Volunteers

At one time or another, most leaders will have to deal with challenging volunteers. Here are some tips that will allow you to fit those people into your program seamlessly.

Read More
time management
Karen Knight

Four Ways to Ace Time Management

Let’s face it. Leaders of volunteers are overloaded. Time management is key to keeping our stress levels down. We all need tips and tricks for keeping ourselves on track and saving time. Here are a few.

Read More
demonstrate empathy
Karen Knight

How to Demonstrate Empathy and Retain Volunteers

Demonstrating empathy with your volunteers can greatly increase your retention rates. But saying “I know how you feel” may not be as empathetic as you think. Here’s how you can demonstrate empathy in a way to truly make your volunteers feel heard.

Read More
solve problems just by listening
Karen Knight

Solve Problems Just by Listening

As humans, we tend to want to DO things to help others with their challenges. We want to actively assist them. Sometimes, though, you can solve problems just by listening.

Read More
presenting to the Board
Karen Knight

Presenting to the Board

Presenting to your Board of Directors may seem scary, but if you want to advocate for your volunteers – and all volunteer leaders should! – this is where you need to start.

Read More
values are different
Karen Knight

When Volunteer Values are Different

When a volunteer’s values are misaligned with those of the organization that they’re serving, problems can occur. Here are some tips to getting everyone working for the same reasons.

Read More
volunteer burnout
Karen Knight

Volunteer Burnout

Volunteer burnout is endemic in the not-for-profit world. But it’s completely preventable, if you’re willing to do what it takes. And, honestly, that’s not very much! Here are the steps you need to take.

Read More
motivating volunteers
Karen Knight

Motivating Volunteers

By using the insights from Dan Pink’s TED talk “The Puzzle of Motivation”, you can find ways of motivating volunteers to do even the boring and unpleasant tasks you need done.

Read More
managing virtual volunteers
Karen Knight

Managing Virtual Volunteers

Many of us are still using workarounds to deal with managing virtual volunteers. This trend is not going away any time soon. It’s time to put something permanent in place.

Read More
dirty work
Karen Knight

Get Your Volunteers to Embrace the Dirty Work

I am constantly told that volunteers just want to do the fun stuff. It’s hard to find people to do the hard, unglamorous, dirty work. Here are some simple ways to encourage your volunteers to do the less pleasant tasks that every not-for-profit needs done.

Read More
team conflict
Karen Knight

Four Early Warning Signs of Team Conflict

“The best time to stop conflict is before it starts.” But how? Prevent conflict among your volunteers, or between volunteers and staff, by learning the early warning signs that things may be breaking down.

Read More
JAD sessions for volunteer programs
Karen Knight

JAD Sessions for Volunteer Programs

Conducting JAD sessions for volunteer programs may never have occurred to you. You might not even know what one is! But they can be a valuable tool for improving your volunteer program.

Read More
audit your volunteer program
Karen Knight

Audit Your Volunteer Program

Stop thinking of “audit” as a dirty word. When you audit your volunteer program regularly, you save time and increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

Read More
Karen Knight

A New Golden Rule

Are you aware that there’s a new golden rule? People are discovering that treating others the way you want to be treated just isn’t enough.

Read More
appreciation event
Karen Knight

Creating Popular Appreciation Events

Volunteers not attending your appreciation events? If you are spending time and resources in putting on events just for them and they don’t show up, you may need to create the event in a different way.

Read More
Karen Knight

Building Resilient Volunteers

There isn’t much information out there about building resilience in volunteers. Yet resilient volunteers are the core of a strong program. Here are a few tips on how you can build their resilience.

Read More
donating time
Karen Knight

Donating Time vs Money

Why is donating time seen as so much less valuable than donating money? Most organizations couldn’t make an impact without volunteers.

Read More
TED Talk
Karen Knight

My Favourite TED Talks

Are you a TED talk watcher? Here are a double-handful of my favourites of the ones that relate to our sector and why I love them.

Read More
trustees
Karen Knight

Directors vs Trustees

The titles we give people have a vast influence over how they are viewed by the general public. Take, for instance, the difference between “Directors” and “Trustees”.

Read More
volunteer quotes
Karen Knight

My Favourite Volunteer Quotes

I decided today to share some of my favourite volunteer quotes and why I love them. From Seneca to Audrey Hepburn, from Malala Yousafzai to Muhammad Ali, here is wisdom distilled into a few lines. I hope you find them as insightful as I do.

Read More
technology
Karen Knight

When Technology Takes Over

With the steady increase in automation, more and more tasks are being taken over by technology, sometimes to the detriment of the people who were doing the work. Here’s how to armour your position against cuts.

Read More
volunteer stories
Karen Knight

Volunteer Stories

As leaders of volunteers, it’s important to share our volunteer stories, good and bad, and the lessons we’ve learned from them. Here are a few of mine.

Read More
perspective
Karen Knight

A Change of Perspective

Some people have been able to deliberately limit the patterns that they form, or at least are conscious of them.  They’re the people who come up with innovative ideas, creative solutions and who see opportunities in things that the rest of us don’t even notice. Boost your creativity and problem-solving ability with a simple change of perspective.

Read More
learning habit
Karen Knight

The Learning Habit

The most successful leaders of volunteers are those that have developed a learning habit, and invest time and energy in their personal and professional development. Here are a few ways to do that.

Read More
pick two
Karen Knight

Pick Two

There are three attractive aspects to every volunteer program. Unfortunately, you can only pick two. Which one will you let go of?

Read More
Flip the narrative
Karen Knight

Flip the Narrative on Volunteerism

A blog post I read recently got me thinking about how we need to flip the narrative. We need to change how we think about volunteerism by changing the words we regularly use.

Read More
lead like water
Karen Knight

Lead Like Water

What are some of the attributes of a good volunteer leader? Oddly enough, they are the same attributes that water has. To lead volunteers successfully, lead like water!

Read More
deal with change
Karen Knight

How to Deal with Change

Change is a constant in the social impact sector, but most leaders of volunteers aren’t trained in how to deal with it. Here are some tips.

Read More
hire volunteers
Karen Knight

Should You Hire Volunteers?

Some organizations hesitate to hire volunteers for staff positions. Or it doesn’t even occur to them! Here’s why I think you should at least have a second look at this pool of potential staff.

Read More
investing in volunteers
Karen Knight

Investing in Volunteers

Investing in volunteers isn’t a top priority for most organizations and funding sources. It should be, because not doing it is hurting everyone. Here’s what we can do to help.

Read More
mentor
Karen Knight

Why You Need a Mentor

When trying to learn a new role, or a new skill, nothing is as valuable as a good mentor. Here’s why, and how to find one.

Read More
saviourism
Karen Knight

Volunteering Without White Saviourism

When people from privileged groups (white, financially secure, male, etc) try to help those less privileged, it’s easy to fall into the trap of saviourism. Here’s what that looks like, and how to avoid it.

Read More
enhance your influence
Karen Knight

Enhance Your Influence

The position of leader of volunteers is often seen as a lower-level position. Executives often forget that it’s a vital leadership position. If you want to enhance your influence in your organization, you need to be seen as a leader. Here’s how.

Read More
crisis leadership
Karen Knight

Crisis Leadership

Crises seem to be happening more and more often. Sooner or later, you as a leader of volunteers will be required to demonstrate your crisis leadership abilities. Here are a few tips to hone those skills.

Read More
language of volunteering
Karen Knight

The Language of Volunteering

The language of volunteering is changing. Words that were commonly applied to volunteers may now be seen as denigrating or objectifying. How do you know what words to use? What should you do to ensure the volunteers who report to you are fully respected?

Read More
surviving hard decisions
Karen Knight

Surviving Hard Decisions

An overlooked part of working in the not-for-profit sector is the high levels of emotional stress that hard decisions have on the leader over a period of time. Here are five ways that you can build self-care right into your work.

Read More
volunteers aren't free
Karen Knight

Volunteers Aren’t Free

Volunteers aren’t free. Many organizations say that they value them, but if they don’t invest in them, they aren’t valuing them very highly. Here is a breakdown of why it’s important to invest in your volunteer program, and how to do it effectively.

Read More
lead strategically
Karen Knight

Four Ways to Lead Strategically

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work of running your volunteer program. If, instead, you lead strategically, you will advance your mission faster, and keep your volunteers happy and committed.

Read More
bad things
Karen Knight

When Bad Things Happen

We don’t like to think about it, but when bad things happen the more that we HAVE thought about it, the better off we will be. Here are some things for you to think about to prevent bad things from becoming tragic.

Read More
volunteer coordinators
Karen Knight

What Makes Good Volunteer Coordinators?

Your volunteer coordinator fills a vital role in your organization. To fill it successfully, though, they need certain skills and attributes. Here are the things to look for when recruiting a new volunteer coordinator.

Read More

Download Resources

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles