One of the lines from the Broadway soundtrack A Bronx Tale* states: “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” I agree with this premise but would add “or wasted volunteers”. There is nothing that can kill long-term motivation faster than someone offering to help and showing up only to find that there is nothing for them to do.
It happens in service organizations where people agree to assist on a project but then hear that “we’ve got this” or the project is all but finished by the time they arrive. It happens in the workplace when someone offers to take on a task but then learns that someone else decided it would be easier to do it themselves. Wasted volunteer efforts happen when plans change and the person who raised their hand is not notified, leaving them alone at the original location, or when someone volunteers to make a connection or contact but the offer is never utilized.
When someone agrees to help – in whatever form that may take – accept their willingness as the gift that it is. Just as you would never leave a present unopened or left aside, treat those who raise their hand with the same anticipation and gratitude.
*from “Look to Your Heart” on A Bronx Tale Original Broadway Cast soundtrack.