Uncovering The Things That Are Hard About Volunteering

things that are hard about volunteering

Volunteering is a noble and rewarding act that allows individuals to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond. However, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not always an easy journey. There are challenges and difficulties that volunteers may encounter throughout their commitment to helping others.

From emotional tolls to safety concerns, volunteers may face numerous obstacles that can make their work challenging. It’s important to understand and address these challenges to ensure that volunteers can continue their work effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Volunteering is a rewarding experience but comes with its own set of challenges.
  • There are various difficulties that volunteers may encounter, including emotional tolls and safety concerns.
  • It’s important to understand and address these obstacles to ensure volunteers can continue their work effectively.
  • Strategies and tips can help volunteers overcome specific challenges they may face, including managing time and preventing burnout.
  • Despite the hardships, volunteers make a positive impact on their communities and the world.

Understanding the Challenges in Volunteering

Volunteering is a rewarding experience, but it can come with its fair share of challenges and difficulties. Whether you’re a first-time volunteer or a seasoned veteran, it’s essential to recognize the potential obstacles you may face along the way. Understanding and preparing for these challenges will help maximize the positive impact you can make while volunteering.

Challenges in Volunteering:

Time Commitment: Volunteering often requires a significant time commitment, which can be difficult to balance with other responsibilities such as work, family, and personal time. It’s essential to consider how much time you can realistically dedicate to volunteering and to communicate your availability with the organization you are volunteering with.

Logistics: Depending on the type of volunteering, there may be logistical challenges to consider. For example, if you’re volunteering at a location that’s far from your home, you’ll need to factor in transportation and travel time. Additionally, some volunteer opportunities may require specific skills, physical abilities, or certifications, which can create additional hurdles to overcome.

Emotional Labor: Volunteering often involves working with people in vulnerable situations, such as those experiencing homelessness, illness, or abuse. This emotional labor can take a toll on volunteers, leading to feelings of burnout, compassion fatigue, or secondary trauma. It’s important to recognize and address the emotional challenges that may arise from volunteering.

Finding the Right Fit: Not all volunteer opportunities are the right fit for everyone. It can take time and effort to find an organization or cause that aligns with your values and interests. Additionally, volunteering with a poorly managed or unorganized organization can create frustration, confusion, and a lack of impact.

Financial Burden: Depending on the type of volunteer work, there may be associated costs, such as training, background checks, or required materials. These costs can create a financial burden for volunteers, especially those who may be living on a tight budget.

Understanding the Difficult Aspects of Volunteering

It’s important to note that the challenges associated with volunteering aren’t always negative. In fact, facing and overcoming these difficulties can lead to personal growth, increased resilience, and a deeper sense of purpose. By understanding and addressing the difficult aspects of volunteering, you’ll be better equipped to make a positive impact in your community.

“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.” – Author Unknown

Overcoming Volunteer Work Challenges

obstacles in volunteering

Volunteering can be a fulfilling experience, but it’s not without its challenges. As volunteers give their time and effort to help others, they may encounter several obstacles that can hinder their work. In this section, we will explore some strategies and tips to help volunteers overcome these challenges.

Time Management

One of the most common difficulties in volunteering is balancing it with other commitments, such as work, family, and social life. Volunteers may find it challenging to manage their time effectively, leading to burnout or a decrease in productivity.

To overcome this obstacle, volunteers need to prioritize their tasks and allocate their time wisely. They can make use of a planner or a calendar to schedule their volunteering commitments, ensuring they don’t overlap or conflict with other activities. It’s also essential to be realistic about the time available and not take on more than they can handle.

Skills and Resources

Volunteers may face difficulties in completing their tasks if they lack the necessary skills and resources. For example, a volunteer at a food bank may struggle to manage the inventory without proper training or access to inventory management tools.

To overcome this obstacle, volunteers need to communicate their needs to their organization or team leader. They can also seek training or mentorship programs to develop their skills and expertise. It’s crucial to voice concerns early on to prevent these issues from escalating and impacting their work.

Emotional Challenges

Volunteering can be emotionally demanding, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as poverty, illness, or abuse. Volunteers may find it challenging to cope with their emotions and maintain their well-being.

To overcome this obstacle, volunteers need to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed. They can practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety. It’s also essential to establish boundaries and take breaks when feeling overwhelmed. Volunteers can also seek emotional support from their organization or a mental health professional if necessary.

Logistical Challenges

Volunteers may encounter logistical challenges, such as transportation, communication, or equipment issues. For example, a volunteer at an animal shelter may struggle to transport animals without a suitable vehicle or carrier.

To overcome this obstacle, volunteers need to plan ahead and communicate their needs to their organization or team leader. They can also seek alternative solutions, such as carpooling or borrowing equipment from other volunteers or agencies. It’s essential to be proactive and resourceful in finding solutions to logistical challenges.

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In conclusion, volunteering may come with its obstacles and difficulties, but with the right strategies and mindset, volunteers can overcome these challenges and make a positive impact in their community. By managing their time, skills, emotions, and logistics effectively, volunteers can enhance their volunteering experience and achieve their goals.

The Hardships of Volunteering

hardships of volunteering

Volunteering is a selfless act of giving back to the community. However, it is not without its challenges. Volunteers often face various hardships that can affect their mental and emotional well-being. Let’s take a closer look at some of the struggles volunteers may experience.

Mental and Emotional Strain

Volunteering can be emotionally taxing, especially when dealing with sensitive issues and vulnerable populations. Volunteers may encounter challenging situations and traumatic experiences that can leave lasting emotional scars. It takes a toll on their mental health and can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.

According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 17% of caregivers reported feeling isolated or alone, while 15% reported feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

It is important for volunteers to take care of themselves emotionally and seek support when needed. They can speak with a therapist, join a support group, or take a break when necessary.

Physical Exhaustion

Volunteer work can be physically demanding, especially when working in disaster relief or healthcare settings. Volunteers may need to work long hours and perform tasks that require physical strength and endurance.

According to a survey conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 27% of volunteers reported feeling exhausted from their volunteer work.

To avoid physical exhaustion, volunteers can take breaks, stay hydrated, and prioritize self-care. It is important to recognize their physical limitations and not overexert themselves.

Time Constraints

Volunteering often requires a significant time commitment, which can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules and other responsibilities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteers spend an average of 52 hours per year volunteering.

To balance volunteering with other commitments, volunteers can prioritize their time and schedule volunteering activities around their other responsibilities. They can also consider flexible volunteering options, such as remote or virtual volunteering.

Financial Burden

Volunteering can also impose a financial burden on volunteers, as they may need to cover their own travel expenses, supplies, and other costs associated with volunteering.

According to a survey by VolunteerMatch, 42% of volunteers spend money on out-of-pocket expenses related to their volunteer work.

Volunteers can minimize the financial burden by seeking out volunteer opportunities that provide necessary resources and support. They can also look for volunteering opportunities that align with their skills and interests, ensuring that their time and efforts are well-utilized.

Despite the challenges and hardships of volunteering, volunteers continue to make a significant impact on their communities and the world at large. With the right support, strategies, and mindset, volunteers can overcome these difficulties and continue to contribute to the greater good.

Navigating Volunteering Challenges

volunteering challenges

Volunteering certainly has its rewards, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Even the most dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers can experience tough parts of volunteering that can leave them feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. But there are ways to navigate these challenges to ensure that your volunteer experience remains fulfilling and meaningful.

Identify the Challenges

The first step in navigating volunteering challenges is to identify them. What are the specific challenges you’re encountering in your volunteer work? Is it a lack of resources? Difficulty working with others? Time constraints? It’s essential to pinpoint the root of the challenge to determine the best course of action.

Seek Support

Volunteering can be a team effort, and seeking support from your fellow volunteers can make a significant difference. Consider speaking with your team leader or fellow volunteers about the challenges you’re facing. They may have suggestions or resources that can help you overcome the obstacles you’re encountering.

Stay Motivated

When faced with volunteering challenges, it can be easy to become discouraged. But keeping your motivation and enthusiasm high is critical to overcoming these obstacles. Take time to reflect on why you decided to volunteer in the first place and the impact your work is having. Focusing on the positive aspects of your volunteer experience can help you stay motivated and energized.

Be Open to Change

It’s important to remain flexible and adaptable when volunteering. Sometimes the challenges you’re facing may require a change in approach or strategy. Be open to trying new things and pivoting your approach if necessary. Consider seeking feedback from your team leader or fellow volunteers to gain new insights and perspectives.

Practice Self-Care

Volunteering challenges can take a toll on your well-being, both physically and emotionally. Practicing self-care is essential to ensure you can continue to make a positive impact. Take time to rest and recharge, eat well, exercise, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

By identifying the challenges, seeking support, staying motivated, being open to change, and practicing self-care, you can navigate the tough parts of volunteering and continue making a meaningful difference in your community.

Emotional Toll of Volunteering

emotional toll of volunteering

Volunteering can be a fulfilling experience, but it can also take a toll on one’s emotions. The act of assisting others in need can trigger a range of emotions, from joy and satisfaction to frustration and sadness. Volunteers must be aware of the emotional impact of their work and take steps to maintain their well-being.

One of the emotional challenges volunteers may face is compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue occurs when volunteers become emotionally exhausted from their work in helping others. It can manifest as a lack of enthusiasm, apathy, or even resentment towards the people they are assisting. To prevent compassion fatigue, volunteers should set boundaries, take breaks, and prioritize self-care.

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Volunteers may also experience vicarious trauma, which is a form of secondary trauma that results from hearing about or witnessing traumatic events experienced by others. This can cause volunteers to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. To prevent vicarious trauma, volunteers can seek support from peers or mental health professionals, prioritize self-care, and engage in stress-reducing activities.

One Volunteer’s Story:

“Volunteering at a homeless shelter was one of the most emotionally challenging experiences of my life. Every day, I witnessed the struggles of people who were in desperate need of help. It was difficult not to take their pain and suffering home with me. I found solace in talking to other volunteers and seeking support from a therapist. Through self-care and community support, I was able to continue volunteering and make a positive impact.”

It is essential for volunteers to acknowledge and address the emotional toll their work may take. By prioritizing their mental health and seeking support when necessary, volunteers can continue to make a difference in their communities.

Balancing Volunteering with Other Commitments

Balancing Volunteering with Other Commitments

Volunteering is a fulfilling activity that offers an opportunity to give back to society. However, it can be challenging to balance volunteering with other commitments such as work, school, and family. Here are a few strategies for managing your time and balancing your volunteering responsibilities with other commitments:

  • Set Priorities: Determine which commitments are most pressing, and prioritize your time accordingly. Make a list of all your commitments, and identify the most important ones. This can help you focus on what is essential and avoid over-extending yourself.
  • Create a Schedule: Use a planner or calendar to schedule your volunteering activities and other commitments. This will help you visualize your time and ensure that you don’t double-book yourself. Consider how long each commitment will take and how much time you need to travel between different activities.
  • Communicate: Communication is key when balancing volunteering with other commitments. Inform your employer, family, and friends of your volunteering schedule, and ensure that they understand the importance of your commitment. This can help you avoid scheduling conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Be Realistic: Don’t take on more than you can handle. Be realistic about your time constraints and commitments, and don’t be afraid to say “no” if you can’t take on additional responsibilities.
  • Flexibility: Be flexible and willing to adapt your schedule as needed. Life is unpredictable, and unexpected events can arise. Having a flexible schedule can help you better manage your time and minimize stress.

Remember, it’s essential to take care of yourself as you balance volunteering with other commitments. Make time for self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or reading. Taking care of yourself can help you stay focused, energized and avoid burnout.

“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.” -Author Unknown

Dealing with Volunteer Burnout

volunteer burnout

Volunteering can be a fulfilling experience, but it can also take a toll on one’s physical and emotional well-being. Volunteer burnout is a real concern that can lead to exhaustion, cynicism, and a decrease in overall satisfaction with one’s volunteering experience.

Here are some tips to help prevent and manage volunteer burnout:

  • Set boundaries: It’s essential to establish clear boundaries and limitations for your volunteering commitments. Don’t be afraid to say no when you feel overwhelmed or overextended.
  • Take breaks: It’s crucial to take breaks and step away from your volunteering work. Self-care is essential for preventing burnout, so take the time to engage in activities you enjoy and prioritize your mental and physical health.
  • Reconnect with your purpose: When feeling burnt out, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact your volunteering work has. Take some time to reflect on the positive changes you’ve made and the lives you’ve touched through your volunteer work.
  • Connect with others: Volunteer work can be isolating, so it’s important to connect with others who share your passion for helping. Join a support group or engage in regular check-ins with fellow volunteers to share experiences and offer support.
  • Switch things up: Sometimes, a change of scenery or a different type of volunteering work can help reinvigorate your passion for volunteering. Consider trying a new type of volunteer work or taking on a different role within your current organization.

“Volunteering is a wonderful way to make a difference, but it’s important to prioritize your well-being and prevent burnout. By setting boundaries, taking breaks, and focusing on your impact, you can continue to make a positive difference in your community.”

Addressing Volunteer Safety Concerns

volunteer safety concerns

Volunteering can expose individuals to a variety of risks and safety concerns. It is essential to take precautions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of volunteers. A comprehensive safety plan should be in place to provide guidelines and procedures for addressing safety concerns that may arise during volunteer work.

Identifying Potential Risks

Before starting any volunteer work, it is important to identify potential risks and hazards that may be present in the work environment. This may include physical hazards such as working with machinery, exposure to hazardous materials or biological hazards, and transportation-related risks. Volunteers should be provided with appropriate training and protective equipment to minimize the risk of injury or harm.

Creating a Safety Plan

Developing a safety plan is critical to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of volunteers. The safety plan should include steps to prevent incidents from occurring, as well as procedures for responding to emergencies. It should also outline the roles and responsibilities of volunteers and staff in maintaining a safe work environment.

The safety plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. It is also important to communicate the safety plan to all volunteers and staff and provide training on its implementation.

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Providing Adequate Supervision

Volunteers should always be supervised by experienced staff members to ensure their safety. Supervisors should be trained in recognizing and addressing safety concerns and should be available to provide guidance and support to volunteers as needed.

It is also important to establish clear communication channels between volunteers and supervisors to enable rapid response to any safety concerns that may arise.

Encouraging Safe Behavior

Volunteers should receive training on safe work practices and should be encouraged to follow these practices at all times. This may include wearing appropriate protective equipment, following safety protocols, and reporting any safety concerns or incidents immediately.

Volunteer organizations should also establish a culture of safety in which volunteers feel comfortable reporting safety concerns without fear of reprisal or punishment.

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of volunteers is essential to the success of any volunteer program. By identifying potential risks, developing a safety plan, providing adequate supervision, and encouraging safe behavior, volunteer organizations can create a safe and supportive environment for volunteers to make a meaningful impact in their communities.

The Impact of Volunteer Work

making a difference

Volunteering offers many benefits, not just for the communities and causes it supports, but also for the individuals who volunteer their time and skills. One of the most significant impacts of volunteer work is the positive difference it can make in people’s lives.

Whether it’s helping to build homes for those in need, feeding the hungry, or providing comfort to the sick and elderly, volunteers have the power to change lives and create lasting impact. Through their efforts, volunteers help to create stronger and more resilient communities, while also gaining a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Volunteering also provides opportunities for personal growth and skill development. Volunteers can learn new skills, gain valuable experience, and develop leadership abilities, all while making a positive impact on the world around them.

According to a study by UnitedHealth Group, volunteering has a positive effect on both mental and physical health. The study found that people who volunteer regularly are more likely to feel a sense of purpose, experience lower levels of stress, and have a reduced risk of depression.

Furthermore, volunteering can have a ripple effect on the community and beyond. When people see others giving their time and resources to help others, it can inspire them to do the same. This creates a cycle of generosity and compassion that can spread far and wide, positively impacting countless lives.

Ultimately, the impact of volunteer work cannot be overstated. Volunteers have the power to make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time. By giving their time, energy, and skills to support causes they care about, volunteers can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of others.


Volunteering can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Throughout this article, we have explored some of the difficulties volunteers encounter, including emotional toll, burnout, safety concerns, and balancing volunteering with other commitments.

However, it is important to remember that despite the challenges, the impact of volunteer work is significant. Volunteers make a difference in their communities, and their contributions promote positive change.


To ensure a successful volunteer experience, it is crucial to have a good understanding of the challenges that may arise. Some tips for navigating these challenges include:

  • Setting realistic goals and expectations
  • Prioritizing self-care and managing emotional well-being
  • Utilizing effective time management strategies
  • Staying informed and addressing safety concerns proactively
  • Recognizing signs of burnout and taking necessary steps to prevent it

By following these strategies, volunteers can enhance their experience and make the most of their impact. Remember, the work of a volunteer is essential, and the challenges encountered are worth the effort.


What are some common challenges volunteers face?

Some common challenges volunteers face include finding the right volunteer opportunity, managing time commitments, dealing with emotional toll, and balancing volunteering with other responsibilities.

How can volunteers overcome these challenges?

To overcome challenges in volunteering, volunteers can research and choose opportunities that align with their interests and skills, practice time management techniques, prioritize self-care, and seek support from fellow volunteers or organizations.

What hardships can volunteers experience?

Volunteers may experience hardships such as physical exertion, witnessing difficult situations, encountering resistance or skepticism, and facing unforeseen obstacles in their work.

How can volunteers navigate these challenges?

Volunteers can navigate challenges by staying resilient, seeking guidance from experienced volunteers or mentors, maintaining open communication with the organization they volunteer with, and continuously learning and adapting to new situations.

What is the emotional toll of volunteering?

The emotional toll of volunteering can include feeling empathetic towards those in need, witnessing distressing situations, and dealing with the emotional impact of not being able to help everyone. It is important for volunteers to take care of their emotional well-being and seek support when needed.

How can volunteers balance volunteering with other commitments?

Volunteers can balance volunteering with other commitments by setting realistic expectations, prioritizing and managing their time effectively, delegating tasks when possible, and communicating openly with their team and other stakeholders.

What can volunteers do to prevent burnout?

To prevent burnout, volunteers should ensure they have a healthy work-life balance, set boundaries, take breaks when needed, practice self-care, and seek support from their volunteer organization or fellow volunteers.

How can volunteers address safety concerns?

Volunteers can address safety concerns by familiarizing themselves with safety protocols and guidelines, receiving proper training, using appropriate protective equipment when necessary, reporting any safety issues or incidents, and staying in communication with their volunteer organization.

What is the impact of volunteer work?

Volunteer work has a significant impact on the individuals and communities served. It can bring positive change, improve lives, foster community connections, and create a sense of fulfillment for both the volunteers and those they help.


Baron Cooke has been writing and editing for 7 years. He grew up with an aptitude for geometry, statistics, and dimensions. He has a BA in construction management and also has studied civil infrastructure, engineering, and measurements. He is the head writer of measuringknowhow.com

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