4 Components of a Healthy Volunteer Culture


How can you know if your volunteer leadership culture is healthy, suffering from a cold or flu or needs CPR or immediate resuscitation? Here is a quick reminder about what components can play a key role in defining a healthy volunteer culture.

1. Consistent Performance
Growing a healthy volunteer culture takes time. Culture as I define it is when people say, “This is the way we do things around here.” Culture is not what is written on the walls but how you live between them on a daily basis. Culture is what gets done and repeated over time. Here are three healthy and consistent behaviors you should see over time.

  • Positive Attitude
  • Team Spirit
  • Enthusiastic Service

2. Common Language
Each successful volunteer culture usually has a unique language. Maybe a custom or word that is unique to their leaders or culture. It’s something I would describe as “tribal.” It’s a form of cultural glue that seems to hold them together. They share a common vision and mission and as a result their language reflects the unity they share.

3. Caring Environment
What is our competition? Yes, I know, we are not in competition with each other but we are in competition with every alternative use of time a volunteer has. So, with that in mind, what is the one thing we can offer our leaders who volunteer their time and talent? How about a sense of belonging. A place where they not only feel welcomed but a place where they feel valued. A place where they thrive and not just survive.

4. Continual Empowerment
Letting our volunteer leaders have the freedom to explore how God has wired them to serve is critical for a healthy culture. Leading followers is easy and generally has a good results. Leading leaders, now thats a different story. Bottom line, it's difficult but it is much more impactful! Leading leaders is difficult for one important reason, they usually have a strong opinion about how things should be done. When that opinion is in opposition to yours how do you handle it? Do you leverage by control or release by empowering?

If you want to grow a healthy, successful volunteer culture you will need to get people on your team that are smarter than you, more talented than you, and more gifted than you. Then, empower them to lead! In other words, don’t micro-manage them. Micro management is the key to mismanagement and your “strong volunteer leader” will leave your team and find another one that will allow them to spread their wings and fly. Go ahead, let them explore their leadership potential and empower them to lead.

How would you rate your volunteer culture on a scale of 1-10?
(1 being surviving and 10 being thriving.)

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