Dreamers vs. Doers in Growing Organisations

September 3, 2018

By Taylor Hawkins

Working tirelessly to change the world is the lifeblood for non-profit organisations. This mission-driven way of life often attracts the most socially conscious individuals, and it is only the most motivated and headstrong of these people that can start and lead world changing organisations.

While dreaming of a better world is not an uncommon trait, the combination of desire and drive for positive social impact is scarce to say the least – as not all ‘Dreamers’ are ‘Doers’.

So when hiring volunteers, the uncomfortable question we must ask is – are dreamers really the best people for the job?

The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Everytime a growing organisation brings on a new volunteer, you invest precious time to induct and train them to join your team, which is why volunteer attrition can be a huge cost.

So, when bringing on extra hands to lighten the load, organisations must be careful to not mistake enthusiasm and empathy for someone genuinely suited to the role and its demands.

Whichever phase of the scaling process you are in, here are some pointers to ensure that your volunteers have both the attitude and the ability to add value to your organisation…

1. Resilience

If changing the world was easy, we would already be living in Utopia. With this reality in mind, if your intention is to push for social change, you need to be resilient and borderline relentless. You can’t shy away from difficult situations and you must be willing to work tirelessly for your cause. So, be sure to bring on people who want to fight for your cause, not just celebrate it.

2. Execution

Dreaming of ideas and ways to change the world is a wildly creative and exhilarating way to spend your brain power. The process becomes significantly less glamorous when it comes to working out how to execute on these ideas. Particularly in the not-for-profit sector, these processes can be arduous and thankless for lengthy stretches of time. Be sure that the people you are bringing onboard are not just in love with the ideas, but also the execution of them.

3. Realism

When bringing someone into your team, you invest in them and, of course, intend for them to develop an ongoing relationship with your cause and organisation. Because of this, finding volunteers who are realistic in their objectives and how much they can commit, ensures that you recruit individuals who are invested in your organisation as more than just a passing interest.

Without these established and realistic expectations, you risk having to put important work aside once again in order to replace them.

Finding and keeping your ideal team can be a constant battle as you grow, but by making sure that you pick the right people to invest in from the beginning you can reduce the cost on both your time and wallet.


As a Director of Business Development for 180 Degrees Consulting, Taylor Hawkins works to support the financial sustainability of the organisation through both outbound lead generation and revenue driven project development. With a background in Law and Communications, as well running several of her own businesses, Taylor is highly engaged in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and how bringing creative insights into the not-for-profit sector can accelerate social impact.