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Remove This Word From Your VPM Vocabulary

Take a look at volunteer recruitment ads — almost every one says, “Volunteers needed.” But, you say, they are! And don’t people want to be needed?

First, what YOU need is not the uppermost thing in a potential volunteer’s mind. They have their own reasons for volunteering. (See the article, Four Typical Basic Motivators of Volunteers) You simply won’t grab them appealing to your motivation instead of theirs.

Worse, you can actually scare people away. “Need” implies “neediness” — and a commitment that may be difficult to get out of. And as Marlene Wilson suggested, it implies that “no one else wants to do it.” This begs the question, “What is wrong with it?” Especially if you add the word “desperately”.  Yet ad after ad does.


People don’t want to be needed — they NEED to be WANTED. Which sounds better to you?

Homeless Kids Need your Help



Homeless Kids Want your Help

“Need” is a four-letter word in recruiting volunteers. And you know what Mom said about four-letter words!



Get even better at recruiting! Check out the article, Volunteer Recruitment That Actually Works!


Nan Hawthorne

About the Contributor: Nan Hawthorne

Nan Hawthorne is a professional journalist and content developer living in the Seattle area and has been a practitioner, trainer, consultant, and writer in the profession of volunteer resource management for many years. She came to international attention as founder and coordinator of the CyberVPM online forum, a pioneering effort in using the Internet for professional networking in the field of volunteer resource management. She is the founder of International Volunteer Managers Appreciation Day, held every November 1.
Hawthorne is the author of three training kits, “Recognizing Volunteers Right from the Start,” “Building Better Relationships with Volunteers,” and “Managing Volunteers in Record Time.” She has written over 150 articles on volunteer management. In addition, she has written articles for eSight Careers Network, specifically regarding competitive careers for those who are, like herself, blind or partially sighted.
Hawthorne has received recognition for her work through a Dufort Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management, as Nonprofit Nuts and Bolts “Favorite Internet Resource [provider] on Volunteer Management,” the Victim-Assistance Online Award for Excellence, LA Times Pick of the Day, as well as having a biography included in “Who’s Who in America.”
Hawthorne is best known for her “what works?” approach to developing and managing volunteer programs.

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