mobilize volunteers chris lambert

January 11, 2024

Episode #92: How to Mobilize Volunteers by the Thousands with Dr. Chris Lambert 

In this episode, host Tobi is joined by special guest Dr. Chris Lambert, CEO of Life Remodeled. Together, they dive into the transformative power of volunteerism, by working with communities, not for communities. They explore the grassroots to grass tops approach, sharing power, and educating volunteers about systemic root causes of community challenges.

The episode delves into the approaches of Life Remodeled to engage of thousands of volunteers in meaningful, sustainable ways through their six-day community revitalization project and beyond. Chris also shares insights from his book, “Next Level Nonprofit,” and the principles it outlines for nonprofit excellence. Tune in for a thought-provoking and insightful discussion on mobilizing volunteers and building bridges across divides.

Mobilize Volunteers – Building Bridges Between Diverse People

Dr. Lambert emphasizes the importance of authentic, healthy involvement in causes and arelational focus when engaging people to help communities thrive. It’s about building connections with communities and promoting a community-first approach. Through this approach, volunteerism can be a catalyst for personal growth by inspiring self-reflection, bridging divides, altering perceptions, and creating meaningful experiences for both volunteers and the community members they work alongside.

Mobilize Volunteers – Become a Team of One

Dr. Lambert also shares the key elements of effective nonprofit work from his new book Next Level Nonprofit. The crucial components of an organizational operating system involve four key pillars – team unity, a compelling vision, the  right strategy, and disciplined execution. Becoming a united team of one, he argues, is the most important thing we can do as nonprofit organizations. “Who is always greater than how,” getting the right people in the right seats (including volunteers), and staying focused on your zone of genius are essential ingredients for success. 

Mobilize Volunteers – Show Highlights

01:45.9 Intro for Dr. Chris Lambert
03:19.5 The turning point in Chris’s life when he changed his life’s purpose
08:50.6 A bit more info on Chris’ book “Next Level Nonprofit”
09:58.0 How engaging the community alters perceptions
12:11.8 Logistical tips for mobilizing thousands of people
22:08.3 How Chris’s team focuses on relational volunteerism
34:35.4 How team leaders are deployed
45:17.5 Chris’s next big project
46:05.3 Where to reach Chris and get his book

Mobilize Volunteers – Quotes from the Episode

“The reason why Life Remodeled exists is because we’re absolutely convinced Detroiters have all the talent they need, But many don’t have access to all the opportunities they deserve.” ~ Dr. Chris Lambert

“I really think it always starts with the people that you’re serving. What are the challenges that they’re facing? How can your work help them to overcome those challenges or or thrive? And then what truly makes the most sense for you in your lane?” ~ Dr. Chris Lambert

“I have found that volunteerism in large groups is actually one of the most effective way to bridge divides.” ~ Dr. Chris Lambert

“In the nonprofit world, our customers or our clients are not paying market value for our goods or services, and so we need to satisfy not only them, but our donors, and our volunteers, and our board members, and all of them have vastly different perspectives.” ~ Dr. Chris Lambert

“Every time they’re using their energy on other things that aren’t in that sweet spot. Sure. They can do them, but they’re not gonna do them with the highest level of excellence, and they’re gonna take away that’s gonna take away from what they’re best at.” ~ Dr. Chris Lambert

Want More? Check out Our Time + Talent Podcast!

Whether you’re looking for solutions, inspiration, or just want to hear what others are doing to successfully engage volunteers, Time + Talent is the podcast for leaders of volunteers.

Co-hosts Tobi Johnson, MA, CVA and Jennifer Bennett, CVA bring you uplifting and insightful conversations with thought leaders and volunteer management practitioners who are redefining their roles, and the roles of volunteers.


About the Show

Nonprofit leadership author, trainer, consultant, and volunteer management expert Tobi Johnson shares weekly tips to help charities build, grow, and scale exceptional volunteer teams. Discover how your nonprofit can effectively coordinate volunteers who are reliable, equipped, and ready to help you bring about BIG change for the better.

If you’re ready to ditch the stress and harness the power of people to fuel your good work, you’re in exactly the right place!

Contact Us

Have questions or suggestions for the show? Email us at

Rate, Review, & Follow Us on Apple Podcasts

If you love the content Tobi shares on the Volunteer Nation podcast, consider rating and reviewing the show! This helps us reach more people – and help more good causes just like yours – successfully engage enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers with less stress and more joy.

Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars. Then, select “Write a Review” and let us know what you loved most about this episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, follow the podcast so you don’t miss a thing. Follow now!

Subscribe to ProNews: Our Weekly Resource Roundup

If you’d like to stay up to date on all new podcasts, blogs, freebies, and deals posted on our Tobi Johnson & Associates and VolunteerPro websites, subscribe to our weekly ProNews newsletter.

Every Wednesday, we’ll send you a digest of our freshest content, plus a bonus! Once you confirm your subscription, you’ll get our [Free eBook] The New Volunteer Manager: The First 90 Days.