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How a volunteer mindset can transform your project team

Adeline Teoh ed.
May 25, 2015

During the Sydney Writers’ Festival last week I spent the equivalent of a working week as a volunteer supervisor. It’s an annual ritual I’ve undertaken for more than a decade after a simple act of providing support for an event I loved turned into a good habit.

I’ve done everything from ushering and greeting to running the writers’ green room and (wo)manning the information booth and have seen what a difference having good volunteers makes to the running of the festival, as well as the general atmosphere of the event. It got me thinking about the similarities between good volunteers and valuable team members.

Volunteers are purpose-led

No matter what the activity, volunteers have an intrinsic understanding of why they are there. After all, something made them put their hand up for an unpaid position and it’s this reason that forms the foundation of their purpose. A good team member does the same thing: keeps purpose, both project and personal, front of mind as motivation.

Volunteers are outcome driven

A good volunteer is outcome driven. They aim to please because their raison d’etre is to support the organisation and they do this by making a net positive contribution. A good project team member is correspondingly keen to achieve positive outcomes for their stakeholders to make the hard work worthwhile.

Volunteers have skills literacy

To attain a voluntary position, a volunteer needs to undergo a formal or informal skills assessment that shows what they can contribute with their current skills and what they can learn in the voluntary role. This is also an asset for valuable team members who not only bring to the table their existing skillset but also a willingness to learn and grow.

What volunteer traits do you find desirable in team members?

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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