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4 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Volunteers


When was the last time you reached out to a competitor in the nonprofit arena for advice? Chances are, this has never happened. In the world of nonprofit organizations, we choose to look at our opposition as friends and not competitors. However, you are competing for volunteer’s time and their contributions.

Volunteers choose a nonprofit organization for a variety of reasons. They may choose to volunteer for an organization they are passionate about or because a friend or family member’s life was touched by a particular illness or condition.

If you were to look closer at nonprofit organizations that have similar causes, what would you learn about their volunteers?  Here are a few things your competitors can teach you about volunteer retention.


Are your volunteers loyal to your cause? Consider ways to differentiate your organization from others similar to yours. What makes your organization stand out from other organizations? Branding your organization allows you to stand out from the crowd. When people notice your logo, it differentiates you from other nonprofit organizations. Brand recognition can allow you to outshine any competitor.

Consider the following questions and how they apply to your organization. Focus on your strengths and see how you can better use them to enlist more volunteers.

  • Why do volunteers choose your organization?
  • What sets your organization apart from other organizations in your sector?
  • What makes you proud to be a part of your organization?

Pay Attention

Have you ever attended a competitor’s event? What would you learn? Do you see volunteers engaging with other organizations within your sector? Make sure you pay attention to what other organizations are doing with their volunteers.

Keeping other organizations on your radar will make you and your team more competitive. It will encourage your team to be creative and innovative when it comes to engaging your volunteers within your organization.

Build Relationships

How well you treat your volunteers can change how they view your organization. If you continually demonstrate to them how much you value them, they will be motivated to participate in more events. If they feel as though they are a part of your “family” they are more likely to return.

Know your volunteers, call them by name, and continually show your appreciation for their time and contributions. If they feel your sincerity in building an authentic relationship with them, they will put your organization above the rest.


This might seem obvious but, listening to your team and volunteers shows you care. Feedback is extremely important for the growth of your organization. Listen to their ideas and what they want to bring to your mission.

People join your organization because they want to make a difference. By listening to your team and your volunteers, they will feel the direct impact of their contributions.

Your volunteers are passionate about where they give their time. Being passionate means they truly want to make a difference with their efforts. Encourage them to share their ideas. Think about the last time someone listened to you and demonstrated they valued your thoughts and ideas. How did that make you feel?

You can learn from your competition if you look in the right places. Paying attention to marketing and relationships can inspire volunteers to join your cause. They will choose your cause over others because they trust you, they value your mission, and they feel valued as an individual.

Headshot of Ashley Chorpenning

About Ashley Chorpenning

Ashley Chorpenning is VolunteerHub's Marketing Communications Specialist.

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