Supporting Volunteers: Job Design and Posting

Insights and resources for ensuring the right people find the right volunteer opportunity and have the right resource, to do their jobs well...and then move on so another person can take the ball and run with it!
Chris Williams Chris Williams
April 07, 2015

We've all seen it happen: Someone suggests an idea but cannot take it on themselves. Then, someone who isn't at the meeting is asked if they could work on it. That person will often do so because they want to help out and don't want to say "no" to their friends. 

Sometimes this works - we have amazing volunteers. But it can be a recipe for increased burnout too. For us to be effective in the long run, everyone must create the change they would like to see and not pressure others to do things they may not have time for.

So what's the alternative? The most sustainable and efficient volunteer recruitment really starts with good job design. And as this article indicates, people's motivations are changing as we face increasing pressure where distractions have increased tenfold in the workforce.

But if you make the work attractive, you won't have to bend anyone's arm to do it. 

Good Volunteer Job Design

Here's the key to success: if you're looking for a volunteer, carefully consider whether the "job" you want to fill (1) actually meets the need of your committee or branch and (2) gives potential volunteers a sense of meaningful engagement. There is a massive pool of people with talents and interest in volunteering, but a number of factors contribute to why estimates say  75% of Americans don't volunteer

Working together, we can improve the volunteerism number and find amazing untapped talent in our own ranks. We can do this in two ways:

  1. Protect our hardest working people from burning out (of which "volunteering someone else" can add to)
  2. Expand our pool of volunteers by reaching out in ways that speak to more people who we might not recognize as looking for opportunities

As you engage in succession planning for your committee, consider re-shaping the necessary tasks so they remain appealing to an increasingly over-worked and pressured pool of potential volunteers (this study reminds us there are some things we can change and some we cannot - which can be planned around). 

How to Post a Mountaineers Volunteer Need Online


The word "enjoy" is in our mission statement and should be a part of everything we do - especially volunteering.  I have created a Volunteer Recruitment Template to synthesize numerous studies on volunteer recruitment into one model form for posting your volunteer needs. It helps people find work they will enjoy doing.

To use it:

  1. Fill out the template to publicize your volunteer needs (by writing up a blog) and "tag" it with "Volunteers Needed" and it will appear on our primary "Get involved as a volunteer" page. 
  2. Then email it to those who may be interested (and/or post on your social media outlets).   can help you develop a list of people with the best skills and interests for the position you are looking to fill based on what people have reported on their "My Volunteer Profile" tab. 

I'm optimistic that you will be surprised with the results more often than not. 

*This article originally appeared in our March 2015 "Leader Lines" email to volunteers in leadership positions. Want to get this email? Visit your profile page and click on "Preferences." If you are a Leader or Committee Member, you will start receiving it. 


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