7 characteristics of awesome volunteers

Photo credit: mangostock, Shutterstock
Photo credit: mangostock, Shutterstock

Volunteers are an integral part of many organizations. On Forbes, Michael Lindenmayer wrote, “The great news is that amazing volunteers do exist. And their impact is extraordinary. You want them in your tribe. They are essential to scaling. And with the world facing super sized challenge, scale matters.”

He also outlined 7 traits of amazing volunteers, including being results-driven, having passionate professionalism, and coming from a collaborative tribal mindset. Of course, each organization will have their own definition of an ideal volunteer, but here’s what we love on Lindenmayer’s list:


They stick to their commitments. They have a zero flake factor. If they say they will contribute something specific, they do their absolute best to make it happen. They are problem solvers and hack, tinker and persist till they find a way forward.


Amazing volunteers have no off switch. They always find a way to spread the word. It may be as simple as asking their friends to follow their organization on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. They may find ways to bring visibility to the story in corporate newsletters, local radio shows and newspapers. They create speaking opportunities to demonstrate thought leadership in classrooms. They strengthen the tribe by enlisting their best and brightest friends, family and professional relationships. The purpose and passion for the mission integrates into their daily lives.


Amazing volunteers think less about what they can get from the experience of volunteering and more about what they can contribute. Sometimes there is a mismatch between what the volunteer wants to contribute and what the organization needs. The best for the organization is to suggest alternate organizations to the volunteer.

Read the other characteristics here.

Other websites talk about volunteers’ flexibility, creativity, and reliability. And on Idealist, we often share stories of volunteers who continue to give year after year, who are innovative, and who work to find the best way to use their skills.

What characteristics do you see in great volunteers? What type of volunteers does your organization cherish?

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