the GOOD, the BAD, & the UGLY

Supporting strategic management in volunteers

When volunteering really works, there’s not much of a limit to what can be achieved. You’re a team, you’re capable, you’re motivated and you’re essential. But none of this happens without proper co-ordination and behind every great team of volunteers is a manager working extremely hard to keep it all together.

Unfortunately, not every team is successful, and not every experience is positive. Have you ever volunteered and thought to yourself “I’m in the wrong place”? Ever found yourself with next to nothing to do and nobody to answer to? How badly can volunteering go? What happens when it goes sour? How does this happen? How can you prevent it?

Whether you’re the one in charge, or the one giving up your time, everybody has their horror story to tell. Voluntary Action Harrow (VAH) wants to help you avoid the worst mistakes and learn from the best practices, so please share your tales of volunteer management done right and wrong.

We want to hear it all, the GOOD the BAD & the UGLY, click here to get involved and share your experiences.

[wptabs] [wptabtitle] the GOOD [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

When a volunteer experience is good, it can pave the way for a lifelong passion and loyalty to your organisation, and perhaps influence career choices. They may choose to become a trustee (#trustee2b) and help with the running of the organisation,or become an advocate, campaigning for your cause.

Seeing the personal development of a volunteer is a good reflection on the volunteer manger, showing the organisation is committed to the principles of good volunteer management practice.

For example: “My focus was on developing volunteers skills so I could better provide appropriate support. This was done by introducing feedback, evaluating and recording the achievements of volunteers. I could then efficiently measure their impact.”


[/wptabcontent] [wptabtitle] the BAD [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

When a volunteer experience is not so good, it can be unrewarding and de-motivating, generating thoughts that the time would be better spent elsewhere. This may come from a lack of understanding or support from fellow non-profit staff for volunteer managers, or, might be evidence of a bad volunteer program.

There is often enormous pressure from higher management to simply recruit volunteers who will blindly put in 20 or 40 hours a week to help reduce the workload, leaving the volunteer feeling unappreciated and overworked. When effective management is seen as the last priority, the volunteering experience suffers, and can turn bad.

For example: “I was under so much pressure to reach my key performance indicators (KPIs) for the funder, I didn’t have time to actually manage them.”


[/wptabcontent] [wptabtitle] the UGLY [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Lack of support, the feeling of being overwhelmed, burnt-out or bogged down, unrealistic targets, difficult volunteers, and general negativity – can develop bad experiences into ugly experiences.

Whilst voluntary and community sectors have faced ongoing challenges with funding cuts, closures, mergers and competition – when volunteering goes horribly wrong, it can have disastrous effects on the organisation
involved. It can be really upsetting either to the volunteer, manager or worse the service work.

For example: “I was so stressed I used to just cry in the office.”



Our volunteer manager’s consultancy package is designed to cover a full range of volunteer issues from developing the GOOD, preventing the BAD & avoiding the UGLY. For more details, please click here.

How To Get Involved:

  • Comment below
  • E-mail Alex ([email protected])
  • Tweet us or join-in the conversation using hashtags: #GOODvm, #BADvm, #UGLYvm

*Please do not reference any organisation by name