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The 25 Greatest Volunteer Quotes to Uplift and Inspire Your Team

Volunteer quotes from famous people, iconic organizations, or anonymous wordsmiths can be amazing tools to share a sentiment with your volunteers or encourage them to support your cause. 

Joseph Heller said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing.” Sometimes the best writing strategy is to use someone else’s words. Even the best writers are stuck on what to say to convey their message. Quotes can add a spark to your narrative that connects better to the reader. 

The best volunteer management strategy is one filled with regular, meaningful communication. Sometimes you can’t think of much else to say, and that’s normal. This is why we put together this list of the greatest volunteer quotes, to help communicate your message to your volunteers when your own words do not seem like enough. You can write out different messages for different moods, and even use tech tools like Golden’s volunteer management software to automate your messages. 

Volunteer Quotes for When You Want to Show Appreciation

Showing appreciation is difficult in any circumstance, even for the people closest to us. That is why volunteer quotes already said by others can be a real help to any nonprofit manager. These are some of our favorites. (Here also are more volunteer appreciation ideas).

  1. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” This is from Aesop’s The Lion and the Mouse. In the story, a lion traps a mouse, but instead of eating him, he releases him from a pure act of kindness. The mouse later comes across the lion trapped, tied in ropes. He chews through the ropes and frees the lion to return the kindness. This is a great volunteer quote for when your team might feel their contribution was small (an hour donated, a quick call made in your favor, or some other “small” deed). Every act of volunteerism and kindness is worthwhile and appreciated.
  2. “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” This is by Elizabeth Andrew, an American author. This volunteer quote is iconic because it encapsulates the concept that the time that volunteers give is valuable and deeply appreciated by your organization. 
  3. “No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. Thank you.” This is attributed to Joseph Addison, English political writer and poet. This quote is a simple way for a nonprofit manager to show their appreciation for taking on a role that alleviates the workload of the team.                           

Using Volunteer Quotes to Inspire

Young motivated volunteers with plastic trash bags in park

One of the most difficult writing tasks is trying to inspire people to work. If they aren’t getting paid, it is even more difficult. This is why volunteer quotes can be a great help for moments when you want to inspire your service team. 

  1. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  This is accredited to Margaret Mead, anthropologist and humanitarian.  This is one of the most used volunteer quotes in the United States for a good reason. It’s motivational, aspirational, and makes a person want to act.     
  2. "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” This quote is by Mother Teresa. You want your volunteers to think that even their small acts have a great impact. No quote is better than this one to make a person feel needed and important, even for small tasks. Every ounce of help matters!
  3. “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”  The author of this powerful quote is unknown. It is still widely published because it is a fantastic way to express to volunteers that their work is powerful and has an impact beyond their direct outputs. 

Golden knows that your volunteers are worth their weight in gold! That’s why, with us, you get Karats – a social currency that recognizes the contribution of your volunteers in a unique way. Check it out.

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Some Volunteer Quotes from Famous People to Engage and Motivate

You can never go wrong with using volunteer quotes by famous politicians and celebrities. Famous people are famous for a reason — people like what they have to say. 

  1. “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” This quote is by Martin Luther King, Jr. There is a reason why Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a National Day of Service in America. He has dozens of volunteer quotes attributed to him, as one of the most outspoken and inspiring voices ever on the subject.
  2. “It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.” This is by the Dalai Lama.
  3. “Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds.”  This is by U.S. President William J. Clinton. 
  4. “It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” This is attributed to Tom Brokaw of NBC News. This is a great quote for corporate volunteering programs or groups that need a more generic yet impactful statement.
  5. “I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” This is from Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist. 

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was such an inspirational volunteer leader that MLK Day is dedicated as a National Day of Service for inspiring volunteerism.

Different Volunteer Quotes Depending on Organization Type

People have made some amazing comments specific to different fields of nonprofit work. Here are the top picks. 

  1. “Firemen never die; they just burn forever in the hearts of the people whose lives they saved.” This is from Susan Diane Murphree. This is a famous volunteer quote to show appreciation to firemen.
  2. “Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, that’s the point. Necessity of action takes away the fear of the act, and makes bold resolution the favorite of fortune.” This is by the English poet Francis Quarles, and is a great quote for first responders.
  3. “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” This is by Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations. This is a meaningful quote for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which rely on volunteers to build and create.
  4. “It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.” This is from American actor Joaquin Phoenix.
  5. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” By Gandhi, this is another great animal rights quote that has an even deeper impact.
  6. “Charity knows neither race nor creed.” This is from the Talmud, Gittin. It is a famous Jewish quote celebrating the universality of giving back as a spiritual endeavor.
  7. “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” This is from The Bible, Acts 20:35.                                

Volunteer Quotes for a Lighter Moment

If you’re looking for volunteer quotes to generate a laugh or a heart swell, here are 4 choices. 

  1. “Ain’t Nothin’ to It, But to Do it!” - A second quote by Maya Angelou.
  2. “Volunteers are paid in six figures — S-M-I-L-E-S.” - Attributed to Gayla Lemaire.
  3. “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” - By  Sherry Anderson
  4. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” - By Muhammad Ali, American boxer. 

When You Need Words to Celebrate Heroes

Volunteer quotes often are the best way to show appreciation to heroes, or show appreciation for heroes to volunteers helping them.

  1. “Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant epochs in the biography of souls.” This quote is by David Thomas, a Welsh preacher. This is a great hero celebration quote, with multiple applications.
  2. “We can all be heroes: in our virtues, in our homes, in our lives.” This is by author James Ellis.
  3. “Heroes in history seem to us poetic because they are there; but if we should tell the simple truth of some of our neighbors, it would sound like poetry.” This is by George William Curtis, American writer and public speaker. 

More About the Importance of Inspiring Regularly with Great Volunteer Quotes

Volunteering is one of the most meaningful experiences a person can have, combating depression and loneliness and making people feel connected to their community. That is why it has become so important to offer volunteer opportunities, especially at the corporate level. 

If you’re a nonprofit that is tasked with communicating regularly to corporate volunteers to recruit and/or retain them, you may find you are stretched for communication ideas. This is a great place to integrate volunteer quotes and stories to make your work more compelling and stand out. You can use a  tool like Golden, which has the industry’s best corporate volunteer management software, to streamline your communications and track impacts. 

In fact, Golden can help you save 90% of your administration time by streamlining your CRM platforms. It applies Salesforce volunteer management strategies to integrate data across platforms, for instance, automatically updating existing records and reports and automating communications to volunteers. 

With a tool like that, you can easily line up your quotes and messages to attract the best volunteers and inspire greatness across your programs!