Volunteering Isn’t Enough: How To Develop Leaders and Mentors

Help Yourself by Helping Others - Words Pinned on Board
Are your volunteers being given the advice, support and connections they need to become better leaders?


Are your volunteers simply being asked to give their time to you?

If you want to have a successful volunteer organization you need to focus on and answer the first question. We’ll do that here by examining the four stage cycle of growth of volunteers into leaders (which I found through a great organization, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC founded by Dan Bassill in 1993. The video below was created by his organization as a case study for Cabrini Connections that you can apply to your organization):


STAGE I: Creating marketing messages and network building (Marketing). The goal of this stage is to find people that are motivated to seek out a place where they can get involved as a volunteer. You need clear marketing messages and value propositions (what’s in it for them?) to get the attention of potential volunteers. This could involve events, personal phone calls and emails, social media marketing, traditional PR and more.

STAGE II: Coaching, training and peer mentoring (Support). Once someone becomes involved with your program they need advice, support and connections to help them stay involved. Lack of those three things can lower the new volunteers’ motivation to stay on board. With the right support this stage also drives the learning that the volunteer does on his own to build his skills as a tutor and as a mentor.

Which leads to the important, transformative stage…

STAGE III: Education and personal involvement (Educate). As volunteers spend more time helping your cause they learn more about the issues and problems people are facing every day. This interest motivates many of them to learn more on their own which in turn creates a stronger volunteer force for your organization. Which leads to…

STAGE IV: Empowering your volunteers (Empower). As volunteers develop a deeper understanding of the issues your cause is facing they transition from volunteers to advocates of your cause. Their personal involvement drives them to tell their friends, family and coworkers about what you’re doing. They often talk more on social media which creates opportunities for new groups of people to find out about your mission.

Which brings us full circle back to stage I: Creating marketing messages and network building.

The volunteer then starts the cycle all over again; this time around providing more value for your organization and growing their professional life even more because of their deeper commitment to your programs. Their deeper understanding gives them clear marketing messages and value propositions to share with their networks. Then we start…


STAGE I (Second Cycle) Marketing: As they become stronger advocates for your program they talk to more people. Talking to more people deepens their understanding and strengthens their bonds with you. Which leads to…

STAGE II (Second Cycle) Support: Because of their deeper understanding they are more prepared to deal with the issues that might come up while volunteering; they’re more resilient. This creates support for themselves to stay involved longer – AND – they become peer mentors for your new volunteers. This gives everyone more help and support when they need ideas, suggestions or advice about what to do during their daily volunteering initiatives. Which brings us to…

STAGE III (Second Cycle) Educate: Your volunteers’ stronger bonds to your program drive them to expand their knowledge on the subject and gain a better understanding of the challenges your constituents face. Their growing personal concern with your cause creates stronger support for your constituents (providing more help for your organization since you’re now becoming more effective at solving problems for people).

This creates great self-respect, self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment for your volunteers which means they talk even more about your organization’s mission and what they’re accomplishing with and for you which brings us to…

STAGE IV (Second Cycle) Empower: Your volunteers increasing leadership skills gives them the opportunity to empower other people. They have more access to resources to help you with things like grants and cause marketing.


Now you’re on your way to not only engaging new volunteers but also keeping on board once they join your mission – and that’s a great start!

Who can you reach out to today to get them involved with your cause? Want some help with that? Check out (and share!) how you can get involve with volunteering and recruiting here: