Common Volunteer Questions: Can Your Nonprofit Answer Them? 

Recent studies found that around 25% percent of Americans volunteered in 2022. With so many dedicated supporters, your organization could come across an interested potential volunteer at any time. Would you feel ready to answer their questions and promote your cause? 

More than likely, you already have a dedicated section on your website that addresses volunteer FAQs, but is it comprehensive enough to convince brand-new supporters to join? Could you provide compelling answers to less common questions?

It might be time for a refresher if you’re unsure whether you could effectively communicate your volunteer benefits. Here, we’ll cover some of the best ways to answer common volunteer questions—let’s dive in!

Why should I volunteer with your organization?

This is a broad question to tackle, but it’s arguably the most important one. Why should a volunteer give their time to YOUR organization when there are 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States they could readily volunteer with? 

To win over a volunteer, you can answer this question in a few ways:

  • Highlighting the unique aspects of your cause. This could include innovative programs, the number of beneficiaries you’ve helped, faith-based implications (if applicable), or community connections. This answer works well if your nonprofit is in an especially crowded space, such as animal welfare. 
  • Sharing success stories and testimonials. Share recent success stories so people can put faces to your operations. Calling back to the animal welfare example, you might list how many animals you rescue each month.
  • Provide a brief overview of your beginnings. Share why you decided to join the nonprofit. Or, if you founded your organization, explain what thoughts or experiences led you to do something. Keep it brief and to the point, and share where someone could find more information online. 

To answer this question comprehensively, consider gathering multiple perspectives from volunteers, staff, and beneficiaries and placing them on your website. For instance, Frontline Response mentions stories of hope from both partners and beneficiaries to highlight the organization’s impact on assisting those experiencing homelessness. 

How much time will volunteering require?

Be honest and upfront about the time commitment so volunteers know what they’re signing up for. Cover all the basics by mentioning:

  • Short-term and long-term commitments. This could include yearly, monthly, or weekly volunteer shifts, meetings, or training.
  • Time estimated by volunteer role. If applicable, mention the time required by different roles. For example, an event volunteer coordinator could be available to manage weekend events while a community outreach volunteer might need to be available during weekdays. 
  • Onboarding process timeframes. Share how long it takes to become a volunteer, including any interview requirements, references, and background checks that volunteers must complete beforehand. 
  • Flexibility. Mention any flexibility related to volunteer roles, such applying for different positions or providing volunteer help in a virtual or hybrid setting.

Be concise and honest when answering these questions. You might also mention how certain seasons will affect volunteer demands. As an example, if you have a biannual fundraising auction, note your need for increased volunteer time for marketing and day-of tasks. 

What skills or qualifications are needed?

Answer this question with dedicated volunteer “role descriptions” to identify volunteers that meet your needs. This way, you can refer curious potential volunteers to a set list of skills or qualifications. For instance, a volunteer would need the following skills to apply for an auction coordinator position:

File Name: Common Volunteer Questions: Can Your Nonprofit Answer Them?_Skills

Alt Text: This image indicates the skills an event volunteer coordinator might require. 

  • Verbal and written communication skills for liaising with donors, sponsors, vendors, and event attendees.
  • Organizational skills to plan, coordinate, and execute various aspects of the event, such as online event promotion or vendor management. 
  • Event planning experience, which may include organizing charity auctions, preparing for fundraising events, or managing donors.
  • Previous teamwork or leadership experience that speaks to an individual’s ability to collaborate and problem-solve in a group setting. 
  • Auction software proficiency, familiarity with event-related technologies, and/or willingness to learn new computer programs. 

Although not every volunteer job description will need this level of detail, including volunteer positions that demand particular skills and qualifications is helpful. You can also offer volunteer shadowing opportunities for potential volunteers to get a feel for a day in the life of supporting your organization. 

What does the volunteer sign-up process look like?

Provide a step-by-step guide on your website to review the process from start to finish to answer this question. A quick overview of this process could look like this:

  1. Navigate to the organization’s volunteer page and click “open volunteer positions.”
  2. Complete an online application form that requests personal information, contact details, availability, required skills or qualifications, and references.
  3. Upload a background check and a personal statement of interest.
  4. Review and apply.
  5. Receive organizational confirmation and begin volunteer orientation and onboarding the following week. 

Ensure your online application is in an easy-to-read, downloadable format so interested parties can complete it quickly without having to experience lag times. Funds2Orgs’ volunteer recruitment guide recommends running technical tests to ensure your form is accessible on mobile and has no loading issues or errors that would slow the application process.

How else can I help? 

Sometimes, an individual might be unable to commit to a full volunteer schedule. Or, they might want to do more in addition to their volunteer time. In either case, mention how else they can help drive your mission forward, which could include:

  • Matching gift opportunities. Include a how to request matching gifts video detailing how donors can request matching gifts from their employer.
  • Volunteer grants. Explain how volunteers can further benefit your organization with volunteer grants, and use a dedicated webpage to describe the process. 
  • Referrals. Discuss referral opportunities where current volunteers can refer new ones and increase your volunteer pool. You can also offer something in return, such as discounted branded merchandise, to incentivize increased referrals. 
  • Advocacy. If legislative decisions will impact your cause , discuss how volunteers can support you with their voting decisions or by signing up for upcoming social justice activities. 

Show appreciation for an individual’s desire to get more involved with your cause and indicate where they can find more information. This could mean highlighting your newsletter or calling their attention to a revamped website page that covers a specific topic in more detail. 

Your next volunteer may be closer than you think. Anticipate their questions and expectations by having dedicated online resources readily available. Additionally, be ready to answer questions in person to take advantage of every opportunity to promote your cause and gather support. 


Al McDonald is the Chief Product Officer for TravelPledge and author of the e-book “The Definitive Guide to Silent Auction Fundraisers.” Al has helped thousands of nonprofits exceed their auction goals through auction item procurement and advice. Al understands that successful auctions are hard work and is committed to delivering practical advice that will move the needle for you today.

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