Why I’m Not Going to Volunteer with Your Nonprofit

Turn no into yesLast week I was catching up on the many blogs I follow, and I came across a great post on Jocelyn Harmon’s “Marketing for Nonprofits” blog. The article was titled “7 Reasons I’m Not Going to Donate to Your Nonprofit.” It was short and straightforward, providing 7 bulleted reasons why many donors say “no,” and some tips for how to turn that “no” into a “yes.”

It occurred to me that these 7 reasons could easily apply to why a volunteer would not sign up to volunteer with a nonprofit. After all, recruiting volunteers and wooing donors can be two sides of the same coin. Time can be as valuable as money to many people, and many volunteers turn into donors and vice versa.

So here are 7 reasons why an individual might not volunteer with your nonprofit (with thanks to Jocelyn for letting us copy/adapt her post):

  1. I’ve never heard of you.
  2. I don’t really understand what you do.
  3. I’m not clear how my time and effort will make a difference.
  4. I don’t know anyone else who volunteers with you.
  5. I can’t figure out how to sign up to volunteer.
  6. It’s hard to sign up to volunteer, and I don’t know if I’m really the right type of person.
  7. You haven’t asked me to volunteer.

And just as Jocelyn provided in her post, here are a few tips to help prevent items 1-7 from happening to you:

  • Make sure your organization’s website, Facebook page, VolunteerMatch profile, and any other profiles are publicly available and have enough information about your nonprofit to provide a solid background for potential volunteers.
  • In your VolunteerMatch listings, and anywhere else you talk about volunteer opportunities, make sure to explain the impact volunteers have on the organization and the cause. Be clear about what skills and interests would fit each position best.
  • Encourage your volunteers to bring friends along and to talk about their experiences with you to others – the best marketing is word of mouth!
  • Make your volunteer sign-up and on boarding process as simple and quick as possible. A great first step is using VolunteerMatch to recruit.
  • Use any opportunity you have to ask people to volunteer. At your events, on social media, in your newsletters – if they don’t know you want them, they won’t say yes!


  • Photo by snigl3t

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7 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Going to Volunteer with Your Nonprofit

  1. Pingback: The Selfish Side of Serving | CharlotteVolunteer.org

  2. Pingback: Why Might Volunteers Choose Not to Volunteer With Your Club? |

  3. This makes so much sense, especially in this slow economy where it seems so many are dealing with finite monetary resources but still want to give back to the community or a cause they support. Having a “Volunteer!” tab or button on your webpage linking to a page with information on upcoming opportunities and contact information is as crucial as having one that says “Donate!”.

  4. Shari,
    Glad you liked the post and love how you translated it for volunteering!
    And I agree that recruiting volunteers and wooing donors are intimately related. Time IS as valuable as money to many people, and many volunteers turn into donors and vice versa.
    Jocelyn

  5. We are here to ask for volunteers looking for a great experience. Helping those in need is such a rewarding experience. Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund needs rockstar volunteers to support chronic disease patients. Visit our website to learn more about our volunteer opportunities! http://www.gooddaysfromcdf.org/

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