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The "Just a Volunteer" Syndrome

The "Just a Volunteer" Syndrome

A woman holding straws she picked up on the beach with other volunteers


“Just a volunteer…”

How often do you hear these words spoken at your organization? The implication that these three words indicate a lack of ability, lack of trust or lack of accountability is worrying. We all know, after all, that volunteer indicates a pay category, not a judgement on capability. So why is the work of volunteers sometimes undervalued, or their level of commitment or skill level underestimated? And it’s not just paid staff who use the term "just a volunteer" – volunteers say it about each other, too!

In this Engage feature, writer, trainer and volunteer engagement consultant Sheri Wilensky Burke explores how to cure "just a volunteer" syndrome. According to Burke, it comes down to “communicating expectations, enforcing accountability and being comfortable in delegating responsibility.”

To read the full article