Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Category: Volunteerism (page 2 of 3)

Volunteers: From Seats to Service, Part 3: Keeping Volunteers from Burning Out

volunteer_part 3

The biggest issue any leader fears dealing with is the meeting where burn out is the reason for a volunteer stepping down.

This raises the subsequent question, “How do we keep volunteers healthy and from burning out?”

Before we address the question, get this big idea in your head –

It is better to keep a long-term volunteer than recruit a new one to replace them.

Keeping the previous statement in mind will help with the following observations.

1 | Compound Investment

Albert Einstein once said, “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” Leaders should utilize compound interest (or what I call “compound investment”) as they invest in their volunteers. Invest as much time in your volunteers as you can, instead of investing all you time in other endeavors.

It takes less time to invest in a long-term volunteer than to recruit, get to know, and train a new one.

Yes, we need to find and train new volunteers, but that should also be done by long-term volunteers who feel so invested they want to make the team better.

2 | Personal Investment

Volunteers are often people with connections, interests, friends, families, and more. Let them know you know about their life, their interests, and their families.

Send them a thank you note written with your hand. Put a stamp on it and send it old school.

Also make every effort to make the praise specific and personal. An honest thank you in your own hand is greater than a half-thought through praise through text, email, or in front of a crowd .

3 | Fruitful Investment

Think of this in terms of three F’s – Fun, Fruitful, and Fulfilled.

First, always look for ways to make serving FUN. Work hard and play hard. I have said it before and I will say it over and over till I see it lived out more often.Here is an idea, have a meet up rally before the serving event, and instead of just doling out boring info, make it a game and make it memorable. When your volunteers are excited it will catch fire in the larger crowds.

Then try and make each volunteer feel like their efforts are leading to FRUITFUL growth in their life. Your roll as a leader is to make sure they have the training and equipment to be fruitful. Fruitful volunteers grow other fruitful volunteers. They spread their healthy vines all around and show others that being part of the team leads to healthy and fruit-bearing service!

Finally, point out when the mission or vision is accomplished or gaining momentum, which in turn, allows them to see they are doing something worthwhile and thus feel FULFILLED.

What is greater than having a blast, seeing growth, and feeling that what you are doing makes a difference in the world? Nothing I have encountered yet. If it makes me as a leader feel fantastic, than I know it’s impact on those I lead and serve alongside of will feel the same.

Share as many stories as possible, especially personalized ones. Send as many cards as needed. Make sure to highlight life change and mission accomplishment. Never waste a moment that can be utilized to celebrate! When all three – fun, fruitful, and fulfilled – are being utilized in celebrating and serving, you will be hard pressed to see your volunteer burn out.

To wrap this post up, know this, hard does not always equate to burn out. People can do hard things and love what they do. Volunteers burn out when all three of our main points are missing regularly.

Therefore, implement these as often and as widespread as you can. Try it out for six months as a focus and I can assure you things in your volunteer organization will be looking up!

Volunteers: From Seats to Service, Part 2 – Establishing Elements of a Volunteer Culture


There are many elements to establishing a healthy volunteer culture in your business, nonprofit, or church. So our post today stays short, we will focus on 3 of the most advantageous.


1 | Value

Everyone is looking for volunteers, so you need to up your game and offer others a value that others cant get anywhere else.

Adding value to our volunteers before they decide to go volunteer somewhere else is key. Why do we wait and celebrate people when they leave and not when they are adding the highest value to us while serving? The more value YOU add to them, the more value they add to you and your mission!

People in their nature want to engage in something bigger than their self. It is how we are wired as humans!

So we need to infuse value not extract value.

2 | Environment

Create a fun, exciting and high energy serving environment. But not high chaotic (there is a difference).

Chaotic may seem like energy and fun but its disorganized and like all disorganized things will soon lose focus and fail.

High energy on the other hand is infusing an element of joy and happiness into all that is done through the servanthood part of your organization.

Try to create a vibe that it’s a good, productive place, things may be moving fast, but we work hard and play hard!

I worked in a volunteer environment once that took a break every 90 minutes to 2 hours to do something fun and that was meant to team build. Notice how I have never forgotten that team!

3 | Alignment

You can add value to your serving team and you can even create fun, memorable environments, but if the team is not aligned to the mission, what is the point?

It’s okay to have fun, but there needs to be purpose behind all you do. Otherwise, you just had fun and left no lasting impact.

Get your team or teams pulling in the same direction so they know how they are doing as a team and how well they are getting the vision done!

Everyone doesn’t have to be aligned as doing the exact same thing the exact same way, they simply need to be all aligned to the main goal, vision, mission, or purpose outcome.

Be careful not to introduce polarizing issues or stances into your team. People attach to environments of people who are different they they are in social, political, and even religious beliefs, if they are all aligned with the same goal in mind.

I know I only listed the 3 I have found most vital, but what would you add to the discussion? I need your wisdom…

Creating Unforgettable Experiences


Creating a an Unforgettable Experience by Brad Lomenick, director of Catalyst

Basic Overview: These are my notes from a breakout session from 2012 at the NYCL Conference in Atlanta. Brad discussed the 10 creative core values that govern his team as they plan the Catalyst conference.  The two things he asks him team to bring to the creative meetings are: 1. Your creative ideas and 2. Your sense of discernment. People need to contribute both with ideas and debate ideas.

1. It is not about us!

His team is to position themselves with palms up and hands open.

No one should have clenched fists on ideas of the past, present, or future.

2. It is about uniting leaders, not dividing them.

Structured as a community and collaborative effort.

Not about individuals but ideals.

World thinks the church culture does not unite well. They are here to disprove that idea.

Nothing is more valuable than unity in leadership.

Start with the idea of generosity. Sharing is big in society today. Social Media is the leader in this area.

Be defined by what you are for and not what you are against.

Remember it is about the larger win; not personal gain. Give all away that you learn or achieve.

3. The event must be about the experience.

Content is consumable, out there everywhere, and is typically free.

People care about the collective experience, not the content of the event.

Value all the five senses and not simply auditory and visual.

What will they leave talking about beyond the message (if they are even talking about the message anyway)?

4. Make it Personality-less.

Don’t build the experience around just one personality. (Explained the transition from John Maxwell to the team approach to Catalyst.)

Events should not be about who, but about what and why – what will I learn and why will it help me in my daily life or work.

This society is about the tribe, the brand, not just one personality.

Design with the communal nature in mind.

Even if the event is more or less personality based, learn to continue to celebrate the entire team to balance it out.

5. Create a big vision and challenge your tribe to buy-in.

The overall goals are about dreaming big and creating inspiring movement.

Think bigger than expected but do not dismiss reality as a part of the equation.

Don’t let reality keep you from dreaming, but let it help you when it comes to actual and possible execution of the dream.

6. Authenticity must be valued since we are all humans.

This generation sees a fake a mile away.

Be you, but do it creatively. Don’t force who you are not.

Be with your people. Get the pulse and feel of their lives.

No leader is such a big deal that he cannot connect with his followers.

Be real and be reachable.

7. Causes and Social Movements are the new norm.

Social Media is king. Innovation is a tweet away.

This generation is about social justice.

The Kony video is a great example.

Create connection through social media as much as you can to foster online communities and forums to spread your ideas and values.

Go to the people, don’t fight to bring them to you – social media is key here.

8. Honor the sages and mentors before you.

This is often forgotten in the younger generation of leaders.

Invite the seasoned leaders to be a part of the creative process.

Creativity is not limited to only younger people.

Have them speak, let them give input, honor their voice in what you do.

This is an area you have to be intentional, because it is not natural.

9. Create a product that you love!

If you do not love your own event, why would anyone else?

If you do not want to come to your event or want to invite others to your event, you have a major disconnect.

Create in a manner that gets you excited about your own event.

This needs to play a major role in planning.

10. Set a standard that scares you.

Excellence is the standard.

To be different is the standard.

Something that has yet to be done but needs to be done.

Make it hard to top your best moments.

These standards will shock you out of the normalcy trap and scare you (in a good way).

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