Best books for working with volunteers

Basic training is the term used for the physical and mental training of military recruits, to prepare them for service. It provides a foundation for service men and women – basic principles and competencies are derived to help ensure success in their military role.

To have success in leading volunteers each of us need something like basic training. This training does not include grueling physical and mental challenges (though that’s not a bad idea!). For us basic training focuses on the most core principles and competencies that are required to lead well. There are a number of ways we can train and grow as a leader of volunteers.

When it comes to recruiting, developing and investing in volunteers I have a few key books that remain my go-to books. These are not the only books worth reading when it comes to volunteer work – they just happen to be some of the best reads (in my opinion). These books are a few that I recommend and refer back to often when I want to grow my leadership skills or catch fresh passion and heart for leading well.


Amplified Leadership (by Dan Reiland) – This is probably my most recommended book for leaders. I first heard the concepts about 12 years ago and they have changed the way I understand leadership.  The book highlights 5 practices for establishing influence in the lives of those around you. The practices build on one another, so it is a great tool for figuring out where you are strong and where you need to grow. (Here is a link to Dan’s blog for additional leadership insights)









5 Dysfunctions of a Team (by Patrick Lencioni) – Most volunteers and leaders serve within the context of a team. I love this book because (similar to Amplified Leadership) it can be used as a great diagnostic tool to identify breakdowns within the team. Bringing the best out of volunteers means creating a great team dynamic.  If you want volunteers to serve with high efficiency you have to ensure the team dynamic is healthy.


bppBe a People Person (by John C. Maxwell) – If you are listing books to help you grow as a leader, Maxwell is going to have to show up at some point! This book is great because at the core of growing volunteers is the need to connect with and grow people. This is a great and simple read with lots of concepts to put into practice.  At the foundation of our leadership skill sets is the basic ability to connect with and engage people.


If you want to grow as a leader of volunteers, I suggest you become very familiar with these 3 books! What books would you add to the list?



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