How To Encourage & Motivate Volunteers
Facilitator Tips Episode 53

How To Encourage Volunteers


This week’s Facilitator Tips episode shares a number of simple, yet effective strategies to help you encourage volunteers in your group.


<< Go to Episode 52   Go to Episode 54 >>


Maybe you’re looking for one or more people to help you demonstrate an activity, perform a specific task or respond to a question you have posed.

There’s nothing worse than asking for a volunteer and watching everyone look down at the floor.

Click the play button above to learn how to motivate people to put up their hands to volunteer.


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Useful Links & Resources


  • Episode 16 Always Ask for Volunteers – this video tutorial will help you learn why asking for volunteers is such a powerful strategy for empowering your group.
  • Refining Your Leadership Skills – watch any one or more of the following videos to gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical framework that will help you encourage volunteers – Episode 6 (Honouring Challenge by Choice,) Episode 14 (Your Framing Is Key) and Episode 22 (How to Engage Unwilling People.)


Video Transcript


Welcome to Episode 53 of the Facilitator Tips video series.

My name is Mark Collard, I’m an experiential trainer and author, and today we’re going to focus on this question, how to encourage volunteers.

Now way back in Episode 16 I talked about the value of always inviting volunteers to help you deliver parts of your program. It could be just a simple demonstration or then maybe something bigger that they could do.

But one of the most common questions that came out of that episode was this is great but how do I actually do that. How do I encourage volunteers, because all I ever seem to get is an empty space, crickets in the background when I say okay, who would like to volunteer?

But the quick answer, and it’s a long term answer, is about this concept of environment, the long term solution to actually creating an environment in which people are willing to volunteer is creating an environment in which people feel comfortable. One of the biggest resistances to people actually putting their hand up and stepping forward, choosing to volunteer, is because they feel threatened or that there’s a chance that they might be laughed at or embarrassed.

So here are some of the things that I’m doing that encourage volunteers to remove some of that resistance. The first one is get their buy-in, if there’s some way in which they can participate in the delivery of the program. It could be something really really small, maybe they hold the end of a rope, or they could actually assist by generating ideas around your goal setting, about what you’re trying to get done. That can really help.

Two, have you ever asked a question and you feel like there’s just too much silence you had to jump in and answer it for yourself? Don’t be afraid of silence. Now, this is not an excuse for asking stupid questions or poorly-worded questions. But it’s okay, if you’ve got the rightly-framed question allow the silence. At some point, someone will feel comfortable to say something. You constantly jumping in and giving the answers when you didn’t provide enough time for the group, and some groups need more time to think about it, is basically a message to the group that they’re just going to wait for you because they know each time you’re going to answer. So that can be a big problem.

Start small. It can be a matter of just hey, could someone go grab that prop for me, or could you hold this rope, or what do you think about this. Doing lots of conversations in small pairs can be a great way to avoid that concern around I’m not feeling comfortable to talk in front of a large group.

And finally, make it fun. If the very first time you ask for a volunteer and someone steps forward and you’ve embarrassed them, you can be very sure the second time you ask for a volunteer no one is going to put their hand up. So make it fun. Make them the hero or the heroine of that situation if necessary, even make yourself become the one that’s embarrassed, and that will certainly be a sure way in the longer term to build an environment in which people will feel comfortable. Environment dictates performance.

Here’s my last-minute tip. If you get lots of hands coming up because lots of people want to volunteer, my suggestion early on is pick the hand belonging to a person who’s most likely to be okay with any level of embarrassment or a feeling of oh, this didn’t work quite so well. The most successful opportunities early on will just breed success for volunteerism later on.

What do you think? What are you doing to help encourage your volunteers? What was an experience of you being a volunteer? Add any and all of that to the comments, and certainly if you found value in this share this within your networks.

And our last-minute plug, hey, have you seen our app. We have an app that gives you all the access to our free group games and activities and other resources. All you need to go to is your favourite app store and look for the word playmeo, download it. It’s completely free, there’s no in-app purchases, and it’ll access all of this stuff at your fingertips on your smartphone.

Anyway, I’ll look forward to seeing you in our next episode. Bye for now. Bye.


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