Managing Volunteers With Different Personalities and Values | Track It Forward

Managing Volunteers With Different Personalities and Values

Last updated by James McBryan on 02/09/2021

Efficiently managing volunteers involves a bit of psychology and a bit of empathy. Different volunteers enjoy volunteering or have signed up to volunteer for different reasons. All of these reasons can be clues to the kind of volunteer management they respond to best.

Understanding what drives a volunteer will help you understand how to retain them. If the situation is mutually beneficial, the participant will be more inclined to stay.

Inspiration and motivation are key methods that attract individuals to the idea of volunteering, but beyond that, there are some other personalities and values to consider. 

Inspirational and Motivational Volunteer Management 

Managing volunteers starts with being organized, and the general attitude that any volunteer manager should have towards all types of volunteers is to be inspirational and motivational. This is the general rule for how to act 

Although no one is a carbon cutout, the following personality sketches may help you decipher the needs of the individual.

Managing Volunteers With Different Personalities 

The activist wants to volunteer with you because they want to make a difference. They see social change as necessary and urgent. 

Assignment: Put the activist on a project that makes an impact on the big picture. Let them know that what they do is essential to the survival of the cause.

Managing Tip: Manage these volunteers with a lot of enthusiasm and constant recognition and provide them with progress updates! 




The loner is either looking for ways to connect or just needs to get out of the house. It’s an important distinction. 

Assignment: If the loner wants more company, match them with other volunteers, preferably those with nurturing tendencies; if the loner would prefer to work independently, be sure that they stay busy. Idle time will make the loner feel more awkward than they already do.

Volunteer Management Tip:  Be mindful of embarrassing this personality type with loud critique or praise.



The social butterfly likes to flutter around and network with just about everyone. Building community is like breathing for this extrovert. 

Assignment: Fundraising, increasing public awareness about your organization, or recruiting other volunteers is a great way to use the social butterfly’s particular skill set.

Managing Tip: Give this volunteer recognition and include them on training! 



The leader wants to be in charge, all of the time. This tenacious character will probably assume authority, even if you haven’t bestowed any. 

Assignment: Put the leader in charge of something, anything. This person may be suited to assist the volunteer coordinator. But be sure that the leader is using power responsibly and respectfully. 

Volunteer Manager Tip: Kindness should be a prerequisite. Invite the leader to meetings. When planning relevant projects, ask them for input. Warning - the leader can make or break your volunteer operation. Be hyper-vigilant about tuning in to how they affect other volunteers. An unmonitored tyrant can kill a good vibe in an instant.



The achiever is donating time in exchange for new skills. Open up staff training sessions to your volunteers. Inform them of job openings in your organization. 

Assignment: Find out what the achiever is interested in and what their long term goals are. Give them a task that expands expertise or builds their resume.

Volunteer Management Tip: Be sure to promote changing of activities and create a space that is not competition-based, but exploratory and allowing people to feel comfortable trying new things. 



The big heart is full of love for the planet. The big heart seeks ways to make others happier. 

Assignment: Give the big heart a task that will allow them to provide emotional comfort or physical assistance to someone that really needs it.

Managing Volunteer Tip: Make sure you aren’t overwhelming these people with heavy tasks, provide them with positive tasks, too! 



The brainiac takes pride in intellectual prowess or technical know-how. 

Assignment: Give the brainiac a task that requires problem-solving skills.

Volunteer Management Tip: Make sure the brainiac feels challenged and like they are putting their talents to use. 



The doer would rather be in a hands-on setting than sitting in a chair all day. 

Assignment: Put the doer on any outdoor endeavor. If that’s not an option, regularly send them on errands to give them a chance to be out of the office.

Volunteer Management Tip: Have extra energy when talking to the doer, they love it! 




Try to evaluate each volunteer, or incorporate all of these tips into a new way to approach inspirational and motivational volunteer management! You might just find that you are becoming a very great communicator, and volunteers reverberate your energy!