How to Deal with Problem Volunteers

Written by on 05-07-2012

There is always one in the group! Here’s how our experts handle rough situations with finesse and confidence:

Fix it Now
Address the situation right away before it gets any worse. On site, pull the person aside to discuss the problem or call them to talk if a problem arises before the event. Problem volunteers can put moral in jeopardy.

Get the Facts
Be sure to get the facts and not just the emotions. Ask the problem volunteer for their point of view or opinion – most volunteers don’t want to cause problems and don’t know they’re causing problems.

Protect Your Organization
If bad behavior continues, end their shift and ask them to leave. Don’t allow your organization’s reputation to be damaged by one bad apple.

Nurture No Shows
Communicate with absentee volunteers and let them know that you know they didn’t show up. Send a polite email; give the volunteer the opportunity to explain, then stress the importance of volunteers coming through for you. You can offer volunteers another chance, but repeat no-shows consume valuable time.

Find out why
If you experience a high level of no shows, take the time to consider how they were recruited. Common problems include:

~   Volunteers from the same company getting no information or bad information from their point of contact in the organization
~   Unclear directions
~   Miscommunicated changes to jobs or shift
~   Bad matches

Recognize People Who Show Up
Always recognize and thank the volunteers who do come through for you. The positive reinforcement will help you build a more loyal and dependable group of volunteers. Those who worked in particularly difficult environments, inclement weather or undesirable early morning shifts should receive special kudos.

It often takes several years of hard work to build a committed, reliable team of volunteers, but it’s definitely worth it and it will reward you in the long run.


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