Volunteer contributors are more than just helpful additions to your community—they are the vital force that shapes and sustains it. They bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences that help your community flourish. More than that, they can free up your time, enabling you to focus on strategic tasks. 

By choosing the right volunteers, clarifying expectations, providing support, and ensuring your volunteers feel valued, you can create a powerful, cohesive force that fortifies your community.

The Center of Your Community Galaxy

Like a powerful vortex, a thriving community pulls people together, driving them towards a common purpose while rotating in harmonious synergy. At the core of this communal vortex lies the engine that fuels it: your volunteers.

Creating such a potent community vortex requires meticulous planning and deliberate relationship building with your most dedicated members. As part of the vast universe of community building, volunteers play the key role in bringing your community alive and vibrant by acting as moderators or group leaders. Community members seek out your community not just because it is a place they are drawn to, but because they want to be a part of it as well. Through their efforts, your community becomes a thriving hub of connection, creativity, and action. 

However, as we know, this vortex of community engagement doesn’t just happen—it requires effort and resources. Harnessing and maintaining the power of this volunteer vortex is an art. Remember, a vortex may draw objects effortlessly into its spin, but creating that pull—that magic—is often the work of volunteers. 

Disruptive Forces: The Rising Storm

We are on the verge of a storm, especially when it comes to the unpaid contributions of moderators. Power dynamics are shifting, and gravitational forces are becoming evident:

It is imperative that we stay focused on the core values that bind our communities together. The people who drive our communities, the moderators and volunteers, deserve our respect and appreciation.

The storm, although disruptive, offers us an opportunity to examine, reassess, and redefine how we engage and interact with our community volunteers. 

Building Your Volunteer Roster 

First, it’s essential to form the nucleus of your volunteer vortex. Reflect on your needs—determine the tasks you wish to delegate to volunteers and define the skills and commitment levels required for those tasks.

Volunteers can be engaged in a multitude of community tasks:

  • Moderation: Managing the dynamic flow of posts, comments, and messages, ensuring they adhere to community guidelines.
  • Social Management: Creating ripples in your community’s social media universe through engagement, response management, and regular updates.
  • Content Creation: Crafting engaging material such as blog posts, videos, or graphics, keeping the community vortex alive and buzzing.
  • Event Coordination: Orchestrating community events, turning the vortex into a hub of vibrant activities.
  • Member Support: Providing a helpful current within the vortex, assisting members who need help or have questions about the community.
  • Data Analysis: Harnessing the power of data to navigate the swirling currents of community growth and engagement.
  • Member Recruitment: Expanding the vortex by reaching out to potential members, communities, or organizations, building relationships, and increasing your community’s reach.
  • Trend Monitoring: Keeping an eye on the ever-changing landscape, staying updated on current trends and topics relevant to the vortex, and incorporating them into discussions or content creation.
  • Trendsetting: Leading the community towards new directions, sharing innovative ideas, initiating discussions on emerging topics, and encouraging members to share their unique perspectives.

Once you’ve identified your needs, consider the people who can help sustain and enhance your community vortex and estimate how many volunteers you need. 

For instance, content moderation can be a heavy task for one individual. However, if you distribute it among several volunteers, it transforms into a manageable current within your vortex. Create a comprehensive job description that outlines the responsibilities, expectations, and time commitment for each volunteer role.

Promote your volunteer opportunities across multiple channels—social media, email, your website, and, of course, within your community vortex. 

And remember, sometimes, it’s worth reaching into the vortex and inviting someone you believe would be an excellent fit for a specific role. It’s meaningful recognition for them and a potential boon for your community. Always be clear about the benefits volunteers can expect—networking or mentoring opportunities, training, or perhaps discounts on membership fees. Each benefit strengthens the bonds that keep your volunteer vortex thriving.

Setting Expectations and Recognizing Achievements

For your volunteer vortex to successfully spiral with energy and efficiency, it’s vital to establish clear expectations for your volunteer contributors. Deadlines, quality standards, and communication protocols should all be laid out from the onset. Providing a strong current of support and training will help your volunteers navigate their roles within the vortex and excel.

Sustained communication is the life force that keeps your volunteer vortex vibrant and active. Regular feedback, updates, and recognition should swirl around your volunteers, keeping them engaged and motivated.

At the core of a thriving volunteer vortex is a recognition of their contributions. Whether it’s spotlighting them in your community feed, news section, or newsletter, or offering incentives like discounted membership dues, expressing appreciation for your volunteers’ efforts can fuel their commitment and dedication to your community. A sincere ‘thank you’ can generate waves of motivation, stirring the volunteer vortex into even greater action.

By following these strategies, you can mold a thriving online community that is powered by the constant, enthusiastic contributions of its volunteer vortex.

Motivating Volunteer Contributors

Keeping your volunteers motivated is paramount for maintaining the whirlwind energy of your community vortex. 

Provide your volunteers with meaningful roles that resonate with their skills and interests: Not only does this make them feel valued and integral to the community’s success, it also empowers them to take pride in their own contributions, strengthening the vortex.
Offer opportunities for growth: Include training, mentoring, and leadership opportunities as an added layer of motivation into your volunteers. By giving them the opportunity to develop new skills and take on fresh challenges, you fuel their growth, sustain their engagement, and strengthen their commitment to your community.
Bolstering a sense of community among your volunteers: This is absolutely crucial. By crafting opportunities for networking, collaboration, and socializing, you can build a powerful and supportive crew that fosters participation and engagement.

Lastly, but most importantly, expressing appreciation for your ever-swirling force of support is crucial. Recognizing their contributions, providing feedback, and offering incentives all demonstrate to your volunteers that their efforts are valued. These gestures of appreciation keep the vortex spinning with increased vigor, motivation, and commitment.

By implementing these strategies, you can stoke the energy within your volunteer vortex, cultivating a motivated and committed team devoted to the success of your virtual community.

The Continuing Journey of Volunteer Empowerment

Sculpting a dynamic team of volunteer contributors within your community demands thoughtful planning, resonant communication, and constant motivation. Yet, by recruiting the right individuals, setting clear expectations, providing training and support, and offering incentives and recognition, you can (and will) start ascending towards levels of community engagement that might have seemed insurmountable before.

With your crew of volunteers, your community won’t just be spinning in place—it’ll be expanding, drawing more individuals in, and providing ongoing growth and value for community members. Your once elusive dream of a robust, engaged virtual community is now manifesting into reality, sustained by the pulsing energy of your volunteer vortex. Through their contributions, your community isn’t merely alive—it’s vibrant, growing, and perpetually evolving.


Article By Morgan Wood, Head of Community, Hivebrite