Contribute/frequently asked questions

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How will volunteers reduce my workload instead of add to it?

Adding new volunteers to your team will take some time -- just like it takes time to onboard and manage new employees, interns or contractors. That investment of time though will expand your team's capacity. For example, Jessilyn Davis in Engagement has 30 volunteers helping her localize the Firefox & You newsletter. It does take her time to manage those volunteers but she is getting far more done than she would be able to do all by herself. At her closing keynote talk at MozCamp Berlin, Mitchell pointed out the huge opportunity we have with investing time in community building: “As you are successful, the amount of stuff that comes in should be growing and you should be starting to feel uncomfortable. The way to handle it though, especially at Mozilla where we have unlimited opportunity, is to take what you really understand well enough to explain and pass it on and empower other people to do things.”

What skills do volunteers have?

We get a wide range of people who want to volunteer for Mozilla -- from people who are extremely qualified to people who are just getting started with Firefox and have been inspired to help us out some way. We need to improve our systems to make it easier to access this information, but there are ways to find volunteers based on skills today. For instance, we can see what people have self-reported when they contact us through the Get Involved page or how they have tagged their set of skills on their profile. There are also tools, such as, that help us match contribution opportunities that require certain skills with people with those skills. There is also no obligation to find tasks for people who want to volunteer for your team if they do not have the skills you need.

How can I rely on volunteers to do things I need to get done?

Mozilla has developed a very effective system of delegating real authority to both paid staff and volunteers that gives us a framework for relying on volunteer contributions. Passing on authority, allowing others to lead, and recognizing those people who step up to lead is critical to this process. When a volunteer is recognized as an owner of something, that is not taken lightly and that person is invested in the responsibilities that go along with that. Mitchell has posted about her first experience with how this process worked at Mozilla, although many people have stories similar to this that they can share.

How does adding volunteers to my team compare with adding employees, interns or contractors?

In many ways bringing on volunteers to your team is the same as bringing on new employees, contractors or interns -- everyone needs time to learn about your team's goals, processes and culture in order to be productive. The People team is looking at how we can leverage existing systems and processes to help you bring in new volunteers. For instance, the new onboarding system will be accessible by volunteers.

How long will volunteers stay involved?

Just as with employees, there is no guarantee for how long someone will stay on your team as a volunteer. There are many people who make one contribution and move on and other volunteers who have been around for many years. You can increase the chances that volunteers will stay involved with your projects through recognition of their contributions and by helping them develop their skills. More about volunteer recognition and development will be added soon at You can also structure some contribution opportunities in a way that can leverage many people who want to make smaller contributions.

Does my team need a full-time Community Builder? If not, would it be useful to have someone spend part of their time on community building?

It is important that someone on your team be responsible for developing a community building plan and making sure it is effective. Depending on the level of volunteer participation your team needs though, this person does not need to be a full-time Community Builder. The People team will be happy to help identify the right level of volunteer participation for you team and the resources you'll need to hit that goal.

Are there ways for me to learn more about volunteer management and community building?

Yes. We have put together a list of resources about best practices and tips and tricks about community building at Mozilla as well as general volunteer management. We are also putting together workshops on relevant topics that we'll be making available to you and your team soon. Find out more at