3 Key Reasons Why Volunteers Leave and How to Address Them


I recently had the opportunity to engage in candid conversations with several volunteers who decided to step away from their church or nonprofit commitments. Their insights shed light on three key reasons that often lead to volunteers leaving their positions: not feeling valued, lack of appreciation, and being over-utilized. However, there are some actionable strategies we can take to tackle these issues, fostering a more positive and fulfilling volunteer experience.

Not Valuing Their Time: The Importance of Respectful Engagement

Volunteers dedicate their precious time to support a cause they believe in. However, this commitment can waver when they don’t feel their time is valued or used effectively. To address this concern, consider the following steps:

  • Be Prepared and Organized: When volunteers arrive, ensure that everything is well-prepared and organized. Clearly define tasks and objectives so they can immediately contribute to the cause.
  • Provide Necessary Tools: Make sure that the tools and resources required to accomplish tasks are readily available. This empowers your team to be efficient and effective.
  • Respect Time Boundaries: While camaraderie and fun are essential, be mindful of your volunteers’ time. Allow them to decide if they want to socialize beyond the designated hours.

Under-appreciated: Going Beyond Verbal Thanks

A simple “thank you” goes a long way, but to truly show appreciation for volunteers’ efforts, it’s important to go the extra mile. Consider these gestures:

  • Thoughtful Acts of Kindness: Small acts like offering a bottle of water or a snack while people are helping can demonstrate genuine care and concern.
  • Personalized Appreciation: Take the time to make a personal phone call or send a heartfelt note to express gratitude for a volunteer’s specific contributions. Let volunteers know you care about them, not just their service.
  • Public Recognition: Celebrate achievements and dedication publicly, such as through social media shout-outs or recognition events.

Over-utilized: Striking a Balance for Enthusiastic Volunteers

An enthusiastic volunteer can sometimes become overwhelmed by being over-utilized. Prevent this by finding the right balance:

  • Diverse Roles: Offer a variety of roles and tasks to prevent burnout and provide opportunities for growth and skill development.
  • Regular Check-ins: Communicate regularly with volunteers to assess their workload and ensure they feel comfortable voicing concerns.
  • Team Collaboration: Foster a collaborative environment where volunteers can support each other and share responsibilities.

By addressing the top reasons volunteers leave – not valuing their time, under-appreciation, and over-utilization – organizations can create an inclusive and supportive volunteer environment. Emphasizing respect for volunteers’ time, showing genuine appreciation, and managing workloads can lead to enthusiastic, committed, and fulfilled volunteer teams.