Volunteers are the heart and the workforce behind most nonprofit organizations, and these amazing programs help make the world a better place. Volunteers fill all sorts of roles in nonprofit organizations, from administrators and board members to event staff and community outreach ambassadors.

Volunteers even come from all walks of life with various skills and experiences to contribute to a nonprofit mission. With so much potential and value to offer, it is important to understand the various roles volunteers can play in a nonprofit’s road to success and ensure your own volunteers fit into your organization’s overarching strategy.

InitLive has had the privilege to work with many nonprofits to establish and streamline their volunteer programs and events to maximize the impact of their volunteer team. Through this experience, we’ve seen firsthand how much value an empowered team of volunteers can make towards a nonprofit’s mission. This article will offer a few examples of how volunteers can contribute to a nonprofit’s long-term success.

Nonprofit volunteers can drive an organization’s strategy forward by functioning as:

1. Board Members
2. Fundraisers and Ambassadors
3. Event Support

While there are an endless number of roles and responsibilities volunteers can be tasked with, these are a few that have a more significant impact on a nonprofit’s operations.. Let’s get started!

1. Board Members

The board of directors holds an important role in any organization, especially in nonprofits. The group is legally responsible for an organization’s governance and works to oversee and implement policies within the organization or nonprofit. While board members can sometimes be paid, the vast majority of these dedicated individuals are simply volunteers.

Volunteer board members are often experts in their field with experience that can greatly contribute to a nonprofit organization's success. These individuals can offer the greatest value and impact as compared to other volunteer positions.

For example, they can create policies and strategies that help boost donor and volunteer engagement and ensure that the organization meets its annual impact goals.

2. Fundraisers and Ambassadors

While some large nonprofit organizations may choose to hire fundraisers and nonprofit ambassadors to spread the word about their nonprofits' great work, many nonprofit organizations choose to fill those roles with volunteers. There is no better advocate for your organization than your highly committed and passionate volunteers.

When done well, these individuals can educate the community about all the great work your nonprofit does to encourage even more people to contribute to the cause.

Harnessing the vast social networks of your volunteers through peer-to-peer fundraising is another great way to fundraise with little overhead costs. Volunteers can post a fundraising campaign on social media and encourage their social media followers on various networks, like Facebook and Instagram, to contribute to the cause.

3. Event Support

Events require a lot of manpower from set up to strike down. With so much to do, many nonprofit organizations turn to volunteers to make up the vast majority of their event staff.

Unlike hiring temporary event staff, your existing volunteers are passionate about your cause and have likely already received some training.

Here are a few examples of common event volunteer roles for a nonprofit fundraising event:

  • Entrance Team -These volunteers are often the people working the event entrance. They take tickets, hand out event maps, and answer questions people may have as they arrive at the event.
  • Merchandise/ Sales Team - These volunteers are responsible for selling event merchandise, raffle tickets, or auction items. This team requires cash handling skills and may involve specific training.
  • Information/Help Team - These volunteers are positioned throughout the venue to help and answer questions attendees may have. They also act as the eyes and ears of the event and can manage issues as they arise.
  • Refreshment Team - These volunteers often require a certification to serve alcohol and additional training to ensure food safety protocols are followed. However, this team is crucial to delivering a great event experience.

Depending on the specific event your organization is hosting, you might need any number of these or other types of volunteers. In most cases, volunteers are the best staffing option because they require minimal monetary investment and allow your nonprofit to maximize the impact of the funds raised allocated to its cause.


There are countless roles volunteers can work to help your nonprofit achieve its mission and goals. The first step in leveraging the full potential of your volunteers is by optimizing the signup process through volunteer management software . The more your organization can leverage your volunteers, the greater impact you will be able to make in the long term, and the better they’ll fit into your nonprofit strategy.


About the Author: Cassandra Smallman, Cassandra Smallman (Author) HeadshotHead of Marketing at InitLive

Cassandra is a passionate content creator dedicated to fostering positive impact through thought leadership in both the Nonprofit sector and live events industry. You can find her work at www.initlive.com or on Linkedin and Twitter.