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The Reason I Volunteer – Alex

This is Alex.

Alex volunteers as a photographer for a local college ministry called The Voice and for various events around town. Her favorite event so far? Make ‘Em Smile: an annual party for kids with special needs hosted by Nathaniel’s Hope. As the founder of Bedside Educators Network, a tutoring company for hospitalized and homebound students, Alex knows the value of giving back.

“Through photography, I can share my perspective of the world with others. I can tell a story, promote a cause, or memorialize a moment with a single shot. Getting to do what I love is great. Getting to do it for a cause that is bigger than myself is even better. That’s why I volunteer.”

People like Alex are what inspires us here at Volunteer U! She gives back to multiple organizations and has found a way to combine what she loves with helping organizations that are making the world a better place.

To learn more about the Bedside Educators Network and the incredible work they are doing visit Alex’s website You can also learn more about the event she volunteers for: Make ‘Em Smile at

If you’re enjoying the #TheReasonIVolunteer series, be sure to comment below and let us know. Follow along with our campaign with #IAmVolunteerU #Volunteeru on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Reducing Volunteer Turnover

Turnover is a natural part of any organization. We all know how difficult it can be to recruit and train good people. And any nonprofit leader will tell you losing valuable team members can be a terrible blow.

I can't admit to having done extensive research on this topic, but I have had my share of conversations with volunteers over the last several years and here are the top 10 reasons I have heard:

  1. Relocation
  2. Burnout
  3. New opportunities
  4. Family Issues
  5. Hurt by other volunteers / the organization
  6. Not enough time
  7. Not using their gifts
  8. Don't feel needed
  9. Lost their interest
  10. Not what they expected

There are some reasons that a volunteer leaves that we have no control over such as relocation and family issues. But most of the others on this list are things that can be prevented.

Here are a couple of practical ways you can stop unnecessary volunteer turnover.

Regular team check-ups - Are you taking the time to check-in with your team on a regular basis? This may feel like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't need to be. Set a calendar reminder to walk by x-amount of volunteers and have a quick conversation. It doesn't need to be a long or an in-depth counseling session. Just start with a simple question or two, "How are you doing? Is everything going okay? Do you like what you are doing? Are there any issues? Can I help with anything?"

Reassess current volunteer roles - Are the right people in the right positions? In smaller organizations we usually just need bodies...forget about finding the 'right person' for the role! But research shows that (especially among Millenials), people get the most value out of serving when they are using their gifts, skills, and interests.

Focus on team health - Sometimes people need to take a break. At our church, we have the rule, "attend one, serve one" where volunteers attend a service for their spiritual growth and then serve at the next one. We also encourage volunteers to take a couple weeks (or months) off when they need it. Family issues, health, even just a well-deserved break. I hate the thought of anyone on my team feeling burned-out. Volunteers who are growing spiritually and practicing good self-care are healthy volunteers! They are the ones who serve with excellence and make the organization look good.

Say "Thank You" - It's incredible how often this simple practice gets overlooked. I think as leaders we sometimes get so busy that we forget how powerful a simple expression of our gratitude can be to our team. People need to know that the work they are doing counts - no matter how small the role they play.



Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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How Healthy Is YOUR Volunteer Team?

Do you experience high turnover? (People leaving the team regularly)

Do team members seem engaged mentally? (When team members serve are they happy, interactive, and thoughtful? Are they there physically and mentally?)

Is there Silo Mentality? (People tend to use "I" instead of "we" or "us")

Do there seem to be a lot of disagreements/issues between team members? (Issues that you as the Leader need to step in and solve?)

Do one or two team members do more than 80% of the work? (Is there a workload imbalance?)

Is there a sense of ownership? (Do team members take on projects as if they have a stake in the organization and want it to succeed?)

Is there a lot of miscommunication? (Do people complain "I didn't know" or "I never heard about that"?)

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