Difference Between Managing Paid Workers and Non-Paid Workers (Volunteers)

Volunteers vs. Paid Workers

Not for profit organizations are comprised of a wide variety of people in order to carry out its mission and vision. Naturally, some work to get paid while others do it as volunteer work or for charitable purposes. It is important to understand the difference between those two categories before planning your management program or strategy.

There are three main categories for which volunteers and paid workers differ, these are:

  • Work
  • Hours
  • Reason


Paid Workers are given definite job descriptions for which their salary and position is based. They also undergo more complicated interviews and tests to ensure that the employer gets the best out of its money and hires the most qualified person in terms of skills and education.

Volunteer workers on the other hand have diversified job roles that does not necessarily have to be in sync with his or her experience. Moreover, every person who has the potential and drive to be a volunteer may be hired to an organization.

Regardless of paid or non-paid status, they are bound by the labor code of the area that they work in, with the same benefits and liabilities that may come with that.


Paid workers often have set hours per day or a specific count of days per week. Most of the time, whatever is in excess of that is considered as over time that the employer has to pay as well.

Volunteers may operate on the same time sheets as paid workers, however, they are mostly working around their other obligations, such as their paid work. Therefore more flexibility is usually expected.


Paid workers are employed in order for them to earn a living. Their main goal is to generate money from their employment to pay for their needs. That does not however preclude them from the same reason volunteers work at the organization.

Volunteers work because they believe in the cause that the organization is campaigning for. It may also be in line with their passion or talent. Their compensations comes in the form of fulfillment from carrying out the activities of the organization.

Management Difference

Given the aforementioned differences, we have lined up basic management guidelines for both paid workers and volunteers. It is important to note, however that management style varies depending on the type and culture of the organization and each individual.

Managing Both Similarly

1. Appreciation

Everyone wants to feel that what they are doing has a good impact. Always appreciate your staff either verbally or through written letters. This may sound simple but it can definitely go a long way in terms of motivating and managing people.

2. Sense of Responsibility

It is important to make volunteers feel that they own what they are doing and that they are headed towards the mission of the organization. This is similar to making paid workers feel accountable to the results of their tasks and showing them the impact of their actions for the advancement of their career in the organization.

3. Clear Communication

Always provide clear communication mediums for both volunteers and paid staff. Miscommunications and confusions can easily demotivate people.

Managing Both Differently

1. Tone of Command

It is important to take into account all the time that volunteers are not paid which means that the tone of command should always be evaluated. For volunteers the tone should often play around the idea that this is a teamwork project. People are teammates, there are no solid bosses or subordinates.

2. Working Hours

Again, the issue of not being paid is very important. When asking for volunteers to work overtime it is imperative that you ask them if they are comfortable with the time frame that you have in mind. This is to ensure that the volunteer and you are on the same page.

3. Resources

There are always expenses incurred when doing volunteer work, ensure at all times that costs that are related to working on organizational activities are reimbursed properly. Volunteers are often confused as donors, but they are not. Whereas employees have allowances to pay for these expenses beforehand, volunteers personal expenses need to be taken into consideration and acknowledged.

7 Ways To Keep Your Volunteers Happy

Volunteerism has changed and evolved over the course of time. Some non-profit organizations were able to keep up with these changes while others have not. Now is the perfect time to check on your current volunteer program and assess whether they’re at par with industry practices or not.

Modern Volunteers

Gone are the days when calling your volunteers in a meeting and giving them general instructions is enough. Volunteers nowadays expect so much more. They are more demanding and may want more than just generic programs. What they’re after is a pleasantly unique experience that is both fun and fulfilling.

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Ways To Keep Your Volunteers Happy

The best thing that you can do to make your volunteers stay and motivated is to keep them happy and fulfilled. Each organization is different and may require a customized approach but here are the foundations where you can build and revamp your programs to keep your volunteers happy.

1. Be prepared and organized

The biggest turn off that volunteers experience is coming to an organization that is unorganized and haven’t figured out how to go about its activities. Volunteers in this situation will only feel disrespected and undervalued. Before taking your volunteers fully on board, ensure that your programs are polished and that your job descriptions are reviewed and accomplished.

2. Warm welcome

Never allow your volunteers to feel uncomfortable even for a minute. Everyone wants to feel welcome especially when entering a new organization. Treat your organization as a home and your volunteers as guests. Let senior volunteers mingle with them and ask directors to drop by and say hello. This is the best way to show that your organization has a happy and a friendly environment.

3. Rouse their interest

You cannot keep modern volunteers by asking them to do clerical work like answering emails all day, mindless filing or data entry. Although clerical work in non-profit organizations are inevitable, try to balance the work load out for your volunteers by putting in complex activities in their task list. The best way to figure this out is to talk to your volunteers and ask them where they’re good at and what they doing. Then draft a work list for them, gauge their reaction and revise accordingly. Put in place the latest technology that automates as much of this as possible, and provides new tools for volunteers to learn.

4. Tasks that develop their skills

One of the top reasons why people volunteer is to develop their skills. Most often it is their leadership skills that they want to enhance. Provide opportunities for them to play this part and evaluate them objectively after. Try to make a program for each key skill and discuss areas where they need to improve on after. They will feel motivated and happy once they see your efforts in helping them become better and uncovering their other skills and passions.

5. Be transparent

Transparency is vital in non-profit organizations. Your volunteers would want to know how the organization is doing. This can be financial matters or other concerns. Discuss your strategy with them and goals in figures. This will make them see how their contributions directly or indirectly affect the organization and will motivate them to bring more to the table.

6. Appreciate them

Tell your volunteers how much you appreciate their work either verbal or through letters. This is a simple yet powerful way to strengthen their morale and make them feel that they are being recognized by the group.

7. Communicate well and often

Communication means so much more today than ever. It not just talking to your volunteers or listening to them. It is a relationship that needs time and effort to build. The advancement in telecommunications have made communication more accessible so it would not hurt to send them a personal SMS or email thrice a week or, if you can, daily. This will make volunteers feel that someone is actually concerned and is looking after them. You will see that they will reciprocate this by working harder and putting in more time for the group.

Volunteering rates on decline, but what can you do?

The Value of Volunteering

It is a given fact that donors pump life into non-profit organizations. Their money fuels the activities needed to carry out the mission and vision of the organization. It is also essential in spreading the awareness about the cause important source. Campaigning for anything has been easier now than it has ever been due to the emergence of the World Wide Web. One interesting post in social media platforms like Facebook can help causes spread like wildfire. Ironically though, as fast as campaign awareness are spread there is a haunting truth of the continuous decline of volunteers. The value of volunteers’ time and effort are equal, if not more than, the money that donors give. The contributions of volunteers are truly priceless, however, it is sad to note that they have been difficult to come by for the past years.

The Status of Volunteering Today

The year 2014 marked the beginning of the decline in the number of volunteers as stated in the study results released by the General Social Survey for Australia. It was stated that both men and women are less likely to offer volunteer help in 2014 than they were in 2010. In addition to this, there has also been 3% decline in people volunteering to help other outside their household. These includes helping out neighbors, providing unpaid childcare or simply lending a hand in gardening for old people.

Perhaps the big question now is why? What is or are the reasons behind this decline? Leaders and journalists have pinned several reasons: the level of economic stress, the lack of government funding, and even in increase of single-parent households. None of these reasons, however, can be classified as the main singular culprit for the rate decline.


What can you do?

The next step to undertake is to check what we can do about this worrying information. Is it too late to regain the momentum of volunteering? The answer is no. It is never too late. We can still do something about this and we should. They key is to align existing volunteers’ skills and interests with missions and to talk to potential volunteer profiles resourcefully through the use of free mediums.

If an organization has existing volunteers, then half of the work is done. What needs to be worked on now is keeping the fire of service in the volunteers’ minds and hearts alive. You can do this by regularly talking to the volunteers. This is to make the organization feel the pulse of the team and assigns tasks well. A volunteer will more likely stay if they feel that what they do is valuable to the organization. Next is to keep the volunteers interested. Volunteers are people too, prone to boredom and demotivation. Motivate them by checking their response to given tasks regularly and asking them for suggestions.

If you need to invite volunteers to your group, do so by making a persona of the volunteer that would work well with your team. This is not to limit the profile of people that you will invite, you will still invite people with other personality types, but streamlining the characteristics of the team that you think will work with your group will save you time. Moreover, these personalities will stay longer and become advocates of your cause. You may use free mediums to send out your cause invitations like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. Try to be direct to the point when giving out your message because unnecessary words may turn them away. You may also try to send emails to influencers like bloggers and celebrities because there are those among them that are open to doing free work for a cause.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that you have to “be the change that you want to see in the world”. Even in the 20th century, this ideal is still true. Again it is not too late, to give your time, skill and efforts to causes that are greater than all of us. The question now is, how will you contribute?

How Do Good Meetings Increase Volunteer Participation?

Meetings are channels of communication. It is one of the oldest yet most effective way to engage people into civil, creative and intellectual discussions. If a meeting is done correctly, it can make members feel relevant thus increasing their participation. A successful organization is always backed up by an effective and efficient meetings.

What is a Good Meeting?

In a good meeting, ideas of each member is heard. These ideas are then deliberated at a reasonable speed and discussions are focused solely on the topic at hand. To hold a good meeting, there must be a good chairperson. A effective chairperson takes charge of the meeting and monitors it well so that the discussion does not go off track by keeping an agenda and allotting time for every agenda item. Good participants come to the meeting prepared and showcases their listening and speaking skills at the correct time.


For a meeting to be efficient, an agenda must be set before the meeting and sent out to participants for review and preparation.


Meeting are prone to clutters and irrelevant discussions. To ensure that everything stays on track, set a time frame for every agenda item. If possible, display the time and agenda item on hand at a screen for every member of the meeting to see and adhere to.


Allot time for discussions so that everyone gets to share what they have in mind. Courteously call out anyone who is exceeding their time allotment to talk.

How Good Meetings Increase Volunteer Communication 2

Increase Participation

Effective meeting can increase volunteer participation by:

  • Keeping everyone in the same page which avoids misunderstandings/miscommunications
  • Providing help to any member of the team who voices out their concern
  • Helping stir the morale of members by providing a greater sense of teamwork
  • Providing public recognition to members who deserve it
  • Honing the skills of members to become future leaders of the organization
  • Breaking the ice between new and old team members
  • Reinforce target organizational culture
  • Providing a sense of purpose to the activities of the organization
  • Increasing accountability by providing a sense of decision making to members

5 Tips on How to Attract Volunteers

Volunteers really do make the world of non-profit organizations go round. They are the driving force behind the success of many causes today. However, volunteers do not miraculously grow on trees. Some don’t even know they have what it takes until they are properly tapped. Inviting the correct volunteers doesn’t also happen overnight. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort, persistence, careful planning and resources.

It is hard to recruit volunteers nowadays but it is not impossible to do so. Getting the right volunteers with skills and dedication is very doable. Here are tips on how you can do just that:

How to Attract Volunteers

1. Plan

Planning your invitation strategy is very vital in getting high quality volunteers. Before you fully embark on inviting people make sure that you already have a concrete plan for them. Moreover, you also need to have an understandable presentation of your organization and cause or campaign.

You need to show them the following:

What : What will they be doing? What is in store for them?
When : When do you need them? How long?
Where : Where will they be working?

2. Profile

Make a persona of the personality or characteristics of the ideal type of volunteer that you are looking for. What skills should these people have? What passion should they want to pursue? Inviting volunteers is not quantity over quality. It should be balanced. One good way to check if they’re right for your organization is to have the candidates fill up a survey. You can also interview them before having them on board. When you do it this way, you’ll have a higher chance of getting long-term and volunteers that fit better with your organization.

3. Advertise

The next step is to announce the recruitment. You can make announcement flyers and hand them out in strategic locations. We highly suggest the following:


Starting your volunteers young is a good path to take. College students are very energetic, idealistic and highly motivated. They also have a good amount of time to share.

Community Boards

These are free boards located in schools or neighborhoods where you can put up your announcement posters you can check here.

Social Media

This is the most efficient and effective way to advertise your announcement. Everybody is on social media, you just have to put up the correct material that is clean and straight to the point. Try to make it as sincere as possible because the online community can easily spot an overacting emotional material and it can easily ward them off.

4. Training

Make sure that you have a complete training outline for your volunteers. Don’t make them feel like they’ve been thrown off to something that they do not fully understand. They will easily feel used for the sake of having people to work for you if this happens. Motivate them by showing the following before you completely let them fulfill their assigned role or task:

  • History of the organization.
  • The cause or campaign.
  • The complete plan to achieve the cause.
  • How their roles contribute to the success of attaining the cause.
  • Post campaign plan, if there is any.

5. Support

The thing that you do not want to happen is to have volunteers today and none tomorrow. Getting volunteers to sign up for the group is not the final step. It is a cycle. Keeping them and making them advocates so that you attract more volunteers is probably the hardest part. To make them stay and invite others to the organization entails time, a strong relationship with the group and a burning passion for the cause. Make them stay motivated by:

  • Recognizing their hard work.
  • Asking for their comments and suggestions.
  • Showing them how their work contributes to the cause/campaign.
  • Not overworking them.
  • Maintaining a positive social environment by having people work in groups and changing the grouping map every now and then.

Final Note

Volunteer recruitment is a very long and hard process. There will even be times when it can be frustrating. To have a solid volunteer recruitment activity, the recruiters should be strong and fulfilled themselves. Establish a strong support system during the recruitment process and remember to be persistent and patient. If you take delight and happiness from recruiting, it is impossible not to translate that when sharing your cause with others. Nothing is done overnight and at the end of the day, the cause that you are striving to aim for will always be worth all the challenges that will come your way.

Recognizing Your Volunteers

Volunteers are not paid to do work for organizations and getting them to stay and appreciate their contribution does not require monetary resources as well. It is essential to develop a continuous process to thank and recognize the efforts of your volunteers to help them stay fulfilled and committed to the organization’s cause.

Why do people volunteer?

To be able to fully understand how to devise a good program on how to motivate volunteers, it is imperative to know the reasons why people volunteer.

These are the general reasons why people volunteer:

  • To contribute to the community
  • To utilize their skills and experiences
  • To advocate for the organization’s cause
  • To uncover one’s strengths
  • To meet other people
  • To join their peers
  • To improve their job profiles
  • To meet religious duties or cultural beliefs


Each organization is different and recognition programs should be designed based on the organization’s core culture but there are general ways that can be applied in order to shape a good recognition program.


Make recognition a priority and research for ways to continuously improve it. Assign someone in your organization to monitor and implement this.


Try to do it as often as you can in an informal manner to sincerely show your appreciation click reference. Scheduling times to let volunteers know can be helpful to ensure we don’t forget in the busyness of things.


Do appreciate people in different ways either verbal or written. Sometimes a nice note can make all the difference.


Appreciate your volunteers in ways that appeals to them. Understand that each individual is different and so recognizing them should be based on their personality as well.