Debunking Myths About Volunteers

Nicole R. Smith
3 min readJun 17, 2020
Volunteers Have A Huge Impact on an Organization

Working with volunteers for over two decades — in churches, sports, radio, and the performing arts, as well as being a volunteer myself — I have heard it all. “Volunteers are lazy, unreliable, have poor quality of work,” the list goes on and on. When I hear this, I am utterly amazed and wonder to myself what they base these sentiments upon. I have found volunteers to be some of the most dedicated, passionate and reliable people known to mankind.

What I do know is that volunteers in an environment that thwarts their growth and an organization that underestimates their value will “vote with their feet” and quietly walk away never to return; and that could possibly give the impression that they are unreliable.

Does that mean that every volunteer I have ever encountered was stellar? Absolutely not. However, I have learned that through Communication, Care and Connection, you can build the mightiest of volunteer programs and witness loyalty beyond measure.

Let’s take a look at three commonly held myths about volunteers.

1. People won’t help out for free: False. If you or your organization have a cause that someone is passionate about, or they simply believe in you, people will gladly lend a hand for free. The only caveat is they need to know that the time they are donating to your cause is worthwhile and most importantly, appreciated.

2. They are uneducated: This one baffles me the most. Many people feel as though if a person willingly gives of their time, they are unintelligent. This just doesn’t make sense. According to CNN, most volunteers range in age between 35–54 and possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. Furthermore, studies show that people with little to no high school education are the least likely to volunteer. People volunteering for your organization are typically in the prime of their careers, nearing retirement or are retired which means they have typically left their careers at the top of their game. This means not only are they educated, but they have a plethora of life and professional experience under their belt. So not only are they donating their time, they are contributing countless years of experience and knowledge to your organization that would otherwise prove costly. All of this to say that your volunteers are not uneducated.

3. They are unreliable: I have worked with many volunteers over the years and have found that yes, SOME are unreliable. But that is the case about everything in life. You have certain friends, coworkers, family members and employees that are unreliable. However, I have discovered that once expectations were established, most volunteers were eager to comply, resulting in some of the most reliable people I have ever met.

There is SO much more to talk about on this subject but if I wrote it all here, it wouldn’t be a blog post, it would be a book! So download your free e-book, “Debunking Myths about Volunteers, Interns and Their Impact and Join me for my next free workshop with the same title where will take a deeper dive into how volunteers and interns can be one of your organization’s most powerful assets. See you there!

Nicole R. Smith

www.nicolersmith.net/tuw

Author of “101 Affirmations for Volunteer Professionals: An Inspirational Note-Taking Journal

“Route 13:19 — “Because a Dream Realized is Sweet to the Soul”

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Nicole R. Smith

Nicole is a Panamanian-American, single mom, workforce development specialist, published author, dancer, and motivational speaker. Her experience spans 20 yrs.