Sprint or Marathon Volunteers

One of the most valuable lessons I learned in a class with Joe Myers has to do with two kinds of people. Once you understand this simple truth about most people, the applications are limitless.


Some people like to sprint. They want to be busy in short spurts. Don’t ask them to sign up to do something every month and especially not every month. Though they can make exceptions, sprinters like to do things all at once with a very sharp focus. They are committed, but prefer to accomplish their tasks in one intense span of time. Don’t try to tie them down. Find them a task they can plunge into and then give them a break for a while.

Marathoners are interested in helping for the long haul, but in small, measured amounts. Don’t ask too much of them at once because they can only do a little at a time. If you respect the time of a marathoner, he/she will be very loyal and helpful for a very long time.


These two categories apply to volunteering styles, but also to areas such as charitable giving, reading, study, etc. Once you find out whether your volunteer is a sprinter or marathoner, it should be easy to find activities that fit his/her preferences.