Offering Different Volunteer Roles Is Beneficial For Volunteer Retention | Track It Forward

Offering Different Volunteer Roles Is Beneficial For Volunteer Retention

Written by Kasey Murphy

We all like a little bit of change often, it’s no different for volunteers! Volunteer roles do not have to be consistent throughout a volunteer’s time! Although volunteers might seem like they enjoy doing the same tasks, not switching up volunteer roles can be harmful to volunteer motivation, and eventually volunteer retention. 

While, of course, it is important for volunteers to be comfortable with their volunteer role, and to dive into a volunteer role after orientation - it is also important to allow volunteers to feel free to move up, introduce variety, and become well-adversed in as many volunteer roles as possible! 

One of the main reasons that some volunteers actually decide to volunteer is to gain new experiences and learn new skills. If a volutneer stays within the same volunteer role every time they volunteer, they will not be doing this! 

Psychology today states: Challenging yourself pushes you to dip into and utilize your personal store of untapped knowledge and resources. You have no idea what you’re made of unless and until you venture outside of your own familiar world.”

For some volunteers, changing volunteer roles might be out of their comfort zone, but it also might be exciting for them! In order to retain volunteers, it is important to make sure volunteers are both comfortable and having fun! 

Another proven volunteer retainement method is making sure volunteers the impact and value of their work. By offering different volunteer roles, volunteers will be able to see exactly how the organization works, and the different aspects that volunteer roles contribute to on a day-to-day basis and in general! 

Allows volunteers to experience new things
Volunteers can meet new people
Volunteers see more of a value in their work
Volunteers feel like they have new things and progression to look forward to.
Allows for a more natural pathway to volunteers staying long-term & allows retention

Different Types of Volunteer Roles 

Volunteer roles can be differentiated from completely different departments of your volutneer program, or different roles and tasks within the volunteer program. 

For example, you could have different volunteer roles that operate in different committees like: 

  • Fundraising

  • Community Outreach 

  • Event Planning 

  • Recruitment 

Or, you could have volunteer roles that volunteers complete at every event, and switch those up. These are a bit more specific. Some examples are: 

  • Check in / Check out 

  • Cashier 

  • Decoration 

  • Clean-up 

  • Communication 

  • Shift Leaders 

If one person consistently does cashier work at all volunteer events, they are likely to get bored or have burnout after a while. So, you could allow them to transfer to different jobs either each event, or after a certain amount of time! 

How To Introduce Different Volunteer Roles

Introducing a variety of volunteer roles might be difficult for you to do, because you don’t want to overwhelm volunteers or make them feel like they are going to need to do so many different things! 

We’ve come up with a few options for introducing volunteer roles. Decide which way you think will be best to ensure volunteers are comfortable and to promote volunteer retainment! 

Option 1: Cycle Volunteer Roles 

  • Introduce ALL of the different volunteer roles at volunteer orientation and have volunteers pick one to start with for the first 6 months (or designated amount of time) 

  • Then, after a certain amount of time, allow volunteers to switch to different volunteer roles. 

  • After a year, or a year and a half of volunteering - volutneers can pick which volunteer roles they want to do, and when they want to switch! 

Option 2: Step Progression Volunteer Roles 

  • Introduce volunteers to an introductory volunteer role to start them off as a volunteer. 

  • Then, give them the option to move to a “next stage” within the volunteer program. 

  • Lastly, showcase all volunteer roles and allow volunteers to pick which role they want to do. Then, quarterly, have meetings with volunteers to see how they like their role, and give them a clear cut opportunity to switch volunteer roles. 

Option 3: Leadership Within Volunteer Roles 


  • If there are minimal amount of volunteer roles in your program - allow leaders of different tasks or roles to operate every year. 

  • From the start of training, volunteers can see a leadership opportunity and the option to progress out of their “new” volunteer role. 

Find a way to create natural progression and rotation of volunteer roles in your volunteer program. The benefits speak for themselves. Multiple volunteer roles allow volunteers to feel more beneficial, have a better understanding of the volunteer program, and want to stay longer in your organization!