Episode #050: How to Use Volunteer Quotes to Inspire Leadership & Resilience

Hey, welcome to the Volunteer Nation Podcast, bringing you practical tips and big ideas on how to build, grow, and scale volunteer talent. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson, and if you rely on volunteers to fuel your charity, cause membership or movement, I made this podcast just for you. Well, hey there everybody.

Welcome to another episode of The Volunteer Nation Podcast. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson, and I cannot believe it, but this is our 50th episode. I cannot believe it. We have been doing these episodes every week since last spring, and we have almost completed a year. It’s crazy. It seems like we just started.

So it’s been fantastic. I want to thank each and every one of you, of our listeners who have been participating and having fun with us. It’s just been a blast up till now to the date that I’m actually recording. We’ve had nearly 12,000 downloads. Well, thank you for listening. This has been so much fun and we’re going to keep doing it because we’re having fun.

So let’s get into this episode. Today we’re going to talk about how to use volunteer quotes to inspire leadership and resilience. Now, when I say volunteer quotes, what I mean is those inspirational quotes that we share. We’ll put them on our our newsletter, put them in our social media, et cetera. And they’re usually, I don’t know, a little bit cliche or they’ve just been used overused, and they start to lose their meaning.

And so today I want to share with you something I’ve been doing with my team and some quotes that I’m giving you permission to share that I think are a little bit better than the regular platitudes that we’re using. That’s what we’re going to do today. I’m going to share some quotes. I’m going to talk about what’s behind them because I think we can use quotes in different ways to create themes and they can even be used as inspiration for a larger gratitude or recognition or kudos speech.

There’s just so many things you can do with these. So we’re going to get started in a minute. I’m going to share a bunch. I think I have about 11 quotes, but I want to also talk about where these come. For our VolunteerPro members, if you missed it, we had a workshop, National Volunteer Appreciation Week.

Ready, set, go. If you miss that workshop and you want to participate, make sure you go into the community and you can find that replay recording. If you’re not a member yet and you want to join us and access that fun workshop that we’re putting together to help people get their jumpstart on their planning, go to volpro.net/join and don’t delay because if you join by March 24th, you can save $50.

Wouldn’t that be awesome? So go ahead and do that, and we will see you on the inside. So let’s get into the business today. So this time of year is a wonderful time to not only thank your existing volunteers, but also amplify the visibility of volunteerism in your community. And it’s also a time to inspire volunteers with something beyond simply clichés or platitude.

So I’ll give you an example of what I think is a cliché quote. Okay? I’m going to give you this quote. There’s no I in teamwork. That is a cliché quote. I know you’ve heard that quote before and I’m sure just pause for a moment and think, can you think of a quote that if someone says that quote again, you’re going to like, your head’s going to explode.

Just think for a minute. I’m going to pause for a minute now. Think about that quote that that platitude that you’ve heard a million times, that you’re like, if someone uses this again, I swear, hang on a second, I’m just going to give you a second. Did that quote come to mind? I’m like, there’s no I in teamwork it, it’s just, come on gang.

We could do better than that, right? In this week’s podcast, I’m going to share some of the quotes I have shared with my team to inspire greatness and resilience in our work. And I’m going to share with you how I do this because it’s very low, low tech. So I try to do this every week. It doesn’t always happen, but I’ll be working, doing something.

I’ll be just jumping off a call with someone. I’ll be reflecting on something I’ve read or come back from listening, taking a power walk and listening to a podcast, whatever it is, and I will get an idea for a quote, something that I want to share with my team, and I’ll will write it on a little post-it note, take a photograph of it, and then just post it inside our Slack channel.

And I call these my Post-It mantras and you know, I don’t know why I don’t share these in social media. If you think I should share these in social media, post in the comments below and tell me if you think I should do that. I usually keep it internal to our team, but these little Post-It mantras are just ways for us to keep each other inspired.

And so I just try to do them every week. Again, they don’t happen every week, but usually. So the quotes I’m going to share today are from these Post-It mantra. That’s where they come from. So I want to share these. They’re kind of fun. Also, before we jump into the quotes, where to share these volunteer quotes?

Again, we don’t need to share, there’s no I in teamwork, we don’t need that. We want to share something that’s uplifting, that really encourages and inspires volunteers to take another step, to reconsider their roles, to understand how important they are. I love using quotes, and I love to usethem everywhere.

You can use them, of course, as I just said, in Slack or your volunteer portal, wherever you communicate with volunteers, your WhatsApp group, wherever you’re communicating in your training slides. I always include quotes in my training slides. It just gives the brain a mental break and a little bit of creativity in videos in your social media post as a banner, in real life, during National Volunteer Week, you could put a quote or post a banner with a quote on it.

Thanking your volunteers on your volunteer recruitment webpage, on the swag you buy for volunteers for a volunteer week on a volunteer recognition cake. If you choose a short, short quote in handwritten thank you notes and anywhere else you can imagine, there’s lots of places you can use these quotes to kind of punch up your communications.

Now, if you’re interested in writing a better thank you letter, check out Volunteer Nation, episode number 6 where I talk about the four-part power thank you letter for volunteers. It just gives you the formula that works and it’s easy, simple, and people love to get handwritten thank you notes. It’s the number one way besides having a fantastic program, I think to recognize volunteers.

All right. You can either choose to use a bunch of volunteer quotes or focus on one volunteer quote that serves as the main theme for your national Volunteer Week celebrations. So you can either prepare your communications with bunches of different quotes, or just use one and then flush it out, flush out what does it mean in blogs, speeches, videos, et cetera.

So you want to choose a quote that really has some meaning, that inspires volunteers to reach their highest potential as community leaders, rather than sharing overused volunteer quotes that don’t, they don’t really carry much punch because people have really overused them. Now, sometimes people will take a quote and add some funny to it, like, thank you for being a wonderful human being.

Then putting that on a little bag of jelly beans. That’s kind of fun and creative, right? But I really think we can do even better than that. I feel like we should be using all of our communications, including volunteer quotes in ways that ask people to level up their leadership and then inspire people to reach higher.

I don’t know, call me crazy. But I feel like we should really, as leaders of volunteers and as volunteer involving organizations, help our volunteers be the best they can be and some of that’s through inspiration. So I talked about my Post-It mantras and now I’m going to share a few with you and what they mean, what’s kind of behind the meaning.

And again, you can feel free to steal any of these. So here’s one that I posted this morning and I posted in our Slack channel this morning. It says we are all evolving sometimes in ways we don’t even notice. Because we often think of transformation as an overnight success, but it really is anything.

But it’s most often the result of tiny iterations we’re making, and we are often the last person to see the transformation in ourselves. Other people are noticing it all along, but we are the last ones. So it’s interesting to maybe use a post like that, a volunteer quote like that to inspire volunteers, help them build confidence that they are actually making a difference, even though sometimes they feel frustrated that there is tiny change happening all the time.

We’re all evolving and our causes are evolving as well. So I like that quote for that. Something like, for that type of usage. Okay, here’s another quote. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on. Volunteerism is a way for people to pay it forward and gratitude. Giving with gratitude can create a ripple effect.

It is amazing. You’ve heard those stories where someone buys a cup of coffee at a drive-thru and then they buy one for the person behind them, and then that person ends up buying one for the person behind them, and so on and so on. It creates a chain of generosity.

Sometimes it’s great. During National Volunteer Week, think through the extent the expansive impact each human being can have in the world. And being grateful is a very, very powerful operating system or philosophy or principle that we can live by that can have huge ripple effects. So I like that gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.

When you throw a rock in the middle of a very still lake, that ripple effect, that ripple goes on and on and on. That’s the way gratitude works. So I like that quote for that kind of purpose. All right, here’s another one. Celebrating wins, large and small. Allow us to update our views of ourselves and our capabilities.

My team, when we do our team meetings, we start with three wins and they can be small, large, they can be little professional, et cetera. And it has been like pulling teeth sometimes. When we first started this practice, my team didn’t know what to do. They’re like, I don’t know, I’m just getting work done.

I said, you know, gang, we’re going to do this and we’re going to get good at it. And after a while we did, and there’s a reason for. In addition to just calling out why we’re proud of one another, it also asks people to reconsider the limiting beliefs that they have about their own capabilities and limitations.

And so volunteers are some of the most humble people I know. You ask them to tooth their own horn, they don’t want to. That’s not the kind of people they are. So we want to encourage them to celebrate wins because it also helps them stretch because they realize, oh wow, I am actually getting this done.

And so I like that quote for that to really celebrate because it adds strength and resilience, inner resilience, and allows us to stretch even further the next time around. Here’s another quote that I posted in my Post-It mantras. Your energy is your everything now. Your everything is underlined.

Everything It is. This has taken me a long time to understand. And you have to understand as a leader, whether you’re a volunteer or a paid staff, that you are influencing others in more ways than you think. So why not set yourself up to put your best foot forward? So if your energy is your everything, what are you doing to make sure that energy is where it needs to?

It took me a long time, as I mentioned, to understand how much influence I could have with my energy. If my energy is positive, then people are open to trying new things. If my energy is reserved or negative, people are also resistant. So one of the biggest change management hacks, I know in volunteer leaders of volunteers and volunteer programs have a hard time convincing others sometimes of making change happen.

The first change management hack is your energy. What energy level are you bringing to this change that you’re proposing? So volunteers too if doing direct service or they’re doing fundraising, or they’re working with patrons or customers or clients or patients, their energy can have a huge impact on the people they’re working with.

And sometimes they undervalue that. So I like that idea of your energy is your everything. Here’s another quote, fear driven by limited thinking is simply a lack of trust in the universe. Fear driven by limited thinking is simply a lack of trust in the universe. Folks need to learn, and I know it’s hard to do, especially when times are tough to lean into abundance.

The universe will catch you when you fall. And I know that’s tough, for some of us. Some people have really deep faith and they’re like, yeah, I know that already. You’re just preaching the choir here. But I’m telling you, this has taken me a long time to learn that. You know what, if you let go a little bit, the universe will catch you.

You don’t have to have a death grip on everything that’s going on, just have faith that just keep taking right action. And you’ll finally get the result that you want, right? So we just, fear driven by limited thinking is simply a lack of trust in the universe. And we need to learn how to trust the universe more and lean into abundance and know that the resources are out there.

Now, I’m probably talking more to leaders of volunteers than I am to volunteers right now. But you know what? Sometimes we need to encourage our volunteers to lean into abundance. Okay. One more. One more quote that I, one of my Post-It mantras, I choose to thrive. That’s it. It’s a short one. I choose to thrive.

Imagine if you put this on a cake at your next volunteer celebration, luncheon. Just I choose to thrive, and it’s the whole theme. How powerful would that be, right? I choose to thrive. It’s all about reversing victim thinking by asserting that we have choices that we can make about how we see.

That’s really what it’s about, right? I choose to thrive means I don’t really care what’s going on around me. I know that in inside my head I can make my own choices about how I see the world. There’s power. Every single human has that power, has that opportunity. So I like that, especially if you’re working with a team that tends to be a bit pessimistic for sometimes they’re feeling burnt out.

Believe me, I’ve worked with those volunteer teams. So we’re working with those. Hey, I choose to thrive. I hope you do too, right? Alright. Okay, so we’re going to take a break from my list of volunteer quotes that you can use to inspire your supporters during National Volunteer Week or whenever throughout the year.

And when we come back, I have a few more quotes for you. If you enjoyed this week’s episode of Volunteer Nation, we invite you to check out the VolunteerPro Premium Membership. This community is the most comprehensive resource for attracting, engaging, and supporting dedicated high impact volunteer talent.

For your good cause, VolunteerPro Premium Membership helps you build or renovate an effective, what’s working now volunteer program with less stress and more joy so that you can ditch the overwhelm and confidently carry your vision forward. It is the only implementation of its kind. Your organization build maturity across five phases of our proprietary system, The Volunteer Strategy Success Path.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit volpro.net/join. We’re back with my list of volunteer quotes you can use to inspire leadership in your team, whether it be volunteer week or any other time of the year. So got a few more to share with you. And again, you can steal these, feel free. All right, here’s another one.

Our vision is the fuel that propels us forward. We want to encourage our volunteers to keep painting a picture of the transformation they want to bring about, keep that ideal in their head and it will keep them moving through the inevitable bumps in the road ahead. Visions can be very idealistic.

I have a vision of the world where racism doesn’t exist. Now, I don’t know if that’s possible or not. I’m going to say I hope it is. I hope that one day humankind can get there. You know what? And I’m going to do my part to make it happen to be the tiny, teeny speck of molecular dust that helps this movement forward.

Think about it. Is it that impossible to imagine? Maybe, maybe not, but we sometimes we need to keep that really high vision in front of us so that there is a reason why Martin Luther King’s remains like it’s still inspires people and that’s about a vision that propelled him and the people he was working with and the people in his movement forward.

I have a dream. So keeping that vision. Front and center helps propel us forward. Even if we know it may not be right around the corner, it may be years ahead, decades ahead, millennia ahead, we don’t know. But we’re going to keep moving forward because we believe in that vision so much. And so I like that theme, that quote for that type of theme to really inspire people to dream big.

All right, here’s another quote. Change your brain. Change your life. Now this was inspired by a psychologist and mindfulness expert that I took a course, Rick Hansen. He does amazing stuff around resilience and meditation. He does, if you go on the mindfulness app, participate in some of his meditations and he talks about remapping your brain and your thoughts actually determine your actions, which determine your results.

And it all starts inside our minds. So by meditating, you can change your brain structure, the neural pathways in your brain. That also changes our minds and how we think your mind is not your brain. So your mind is what you think and how you perceive yourself. And your brain is the tissues, right? You can change your tissue by meditation, but you can also change your mind and your thinking. We often operate in day-to-day life with automatic reactions, but we can adjust those and then we can shift the results we get. Now, this is pretty philosophical. Sometimes for some people it’s a little esoteric, but I like to talk about it.

I’m a huge fan of meditation. I’ve seen it help myself, my husband, my family. I’ve just seen it really help friends of mine. I’m a big believer in it, that’s the next level of human evolution. That when we learn to manage our brains better, our world is going to be better. And we’re just like, in the past, 10, 20 years understanding, maybe 30 years for some.

It’s not me, but I just start meditating a few years ago. But people are starting to understand that we can actually change our brains. And so I love that quote. If you are in a wellness, if your volunteers are really into wellness, that kind of thing, then change your brain, change your life might resonate with them.

All right, I have three more I want to share with you. Here’s another one. You can’t change other people. You can change how you respond to them. This is all about boundary setting and sometimes our volunteers get emotionally impacted by others’ behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, and sometimes it gets blown up, right?

They make a lot of assumptions and it could be just somebody’s having a bad day. By the same token, some people aren’t nice and polite all the time, but that doesn’t mean we need to let them ruin our day. So you can’t change other people. You can change how you respond to them. It’s sort of a cousin of change your brain, change your mind.

It’s really about purposeful, about how we react to others and how we can step back and disassociate or detach. From other people’s realities, we don’t need to let that reality of other people. I’ve heard people say hurt people, hurt people sometimes. That’s a great thing to say to yourself when people are acting like toxic, you’re like, okay, hurt people.

Hurt people. I get it. I’m walking away. So professional boundary setting. Most volunteers are working in direct service, haven’t had a lot of training in professional boundary setting. They’re not professional social workers, and so we have to remind them that it’s helpful for them to maintain good brain hygiene, good mind hygiene when they’re working with others.

And so I like that you can’t change other people. You can change how you respond to them, and sometimes how you respond to them does change them. Sometimes it does. Okay. Two more. Every great plan starts with the right question. So, when we were doing our Vision Week 5-Day Strategic Planning Bootcamp last December, this was something I shared with the group that every great plan starts with the right question.

I like this question. How can we dot, dot, dot question mark? That’s it. How can we dot, dot, dot question mark. So you fill in the. And so when you can focus a question like that, then your planning becomes so much easier because you’re just focused on that one outcome. And so every great plan, if you can come up with a really good compelling question, then people can move forward.

So this is a great quote if you’re working on strategic planning or making change happen with your volunteers. All right, my last quote, your baseline is your benchmark. Now we have been thinking a lot about our KPIs, keep key performance indicators at our business. But we also get asked a lot from leaders of volunteers, well, what’s the standard benchmark?

What is it we should be reaching towards? And in our volunteer management progress report survey this year, we did ask about some key benchmarks or key performance indicators, who was tracking and what results they were getting. But we did not do so to establish full on benchmarks that everyone should feel that they should.

Because in the end, every organization is completely different. They have resources, they have different contexts. They have different cause impact areas, even different skills and capabilities of staff. And so results are going to be different. And so I like your baseline is your benchmark because it’s really about starting where you are and competing against yourself.

So whatever your baseline key performance metric is or baseline goal is, then that’s your baseline and that’s your benchmark. That’s what you’re competing against. And so it really gives people inspiration to just start where they’re at and compete against themselves. So I think this quote is great to use with volunteers when you are.

Really challenging people and you’re getting in, either you’re getting involved in a big project or you’re challenging people to reach a higher goal. You want to not expect them to compare themselves with others. They just want their B, your baseline is your benchmark. You do you. You start where you are and try to beat yourself, right?

There you go. Try to improve on your own baseline. Those are 11 quotes that I hope you’ll feel free to steal, and I hope that you’ll be able to use at least one of these to maybe build out some type of theme. Maybe they’ll inspire. Maybe you don’t use the quote at all, but the ideas I’ve shared today inspire you around.

For which you want to create your National Volunteer Week celebrations because I’m a big fan of themes when it comes to multi-day celebrations. I think it’s a great idea. The other thing is I have a couple other resources for you for National Volunteer Week. We have two VolunteerPro blogs that we’ve posted recently that will give you some other resources as well.

So we have a Month of Love. We had it in February, we did a Month of Love where we did nonprofit tools, downloads, and templates all month long. If you’re not on our mailing list, you probably didn’t hear about this. If you are, you probably saw these gifts, our month of love. We wanted to shower our audience with gifts, and we did, but you can find them all on one blog post page, on one post.

So, they’re all listed, the links are there, and I will post a link to these in the web, in the show notes as well. And then the second VolunteerPro blog post is Volunteer Appreciation Week 2023  Easy, Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Team. And Jamie, my marketing manager, did some research and found a bunch fantastic fun gifts and ideas because I know sometimes you like to buy a little swag for your volunteers, so it’s got a bunch of links and research for swag with some themes.

Now, I told you I was into themes, right? Well, she has some very creative themes that she’s come up with and then links to some swag you can purchase if you’re interested.

So those are a couple of VolunteerPro blog posts to help you with, in addition to these volunteer quotes, to help you think through your plan for National Volunteer Week. So I hope they’re helpful and I’ll post them in the show notes. And the last thing I’d like to end with is, if you’re interested in learning more about developing 360 degree volunteer appreciation, a real strategy, not just a week out of the year, why not think about becoming a VolunteerPro member?

Our spring flash sale ends on March 24th. The doors will stay open, but you can’t save $50 after that. So if you join us by March 24th, you can save $50 when you join as an annual member, and you’ll get access to our self-paced study and growth through our proprietary guided training system.

You’ll get access to our live monthly training workshops and coaching calls, as well as access to our vibrant community of growth-minded professionals. It’s absolutely awesome. If you listen to our last podcast last week, I talked all about how we recently remodeled , how we remodeled the inside of our learning hub inside the community.

And if you join now, you’ll get our bonus, take your volunteer training online a step-by-step guide e-book, so don’t delay. If you’d like to join as a member, you can save $50 by Friday, March 24th. Just go to volpro.net/join. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a real pleasure and a lot of fun sharing my Post-It mantras.

I hope you found it inspirational. I hope it’s given you creative ways and new volunteer quotes that you might use that take you beyond. The basic, there’s no I in teamwork, got to go past that. So if you like this episode, I hope you’ll share it with a friend or colleague who might need some volunteer appreciation, inspiration, and a better approach to get them traction.

And I will see you next time for another episode of the Volunteer Nation. Thanks for listening to this episode of The Volunteer Nation Podcast. If you enjoyed it, please be sure to subscribe, rate, and review so we can reach people like you who want to improve the impact of their good. For more tips and notes from the show, check us out atTobijohnson.com.

We’ll see you next week for another installment of Volunteer Nation.