Presentation Title:  Empowering volunteer teams through servant leadership 

As an independent Christian charity, HammondCare champions life! HammondCare’s mission is simple: to improve quality of life for people in need. Easy to say – challenging to do!

Volunteers have been at the core of HammondCare since its foundation 85 years ago, and today volunteers still work right alongside staff day by day in the delivery of our mission. But how do you deliver an uncompromising, outstanding personalised service with every interaction when you have a team of over 1,000 active volunteers?

We believe that a passion for helping people in need is at the heart of motivating, recruiting and retaining volunteers. It is that same passion that must be embodied and modelled by the Volunteer Coordinators who manage them. Fostering and harnessing this passion at every level, and empowering people in their everyday tasks, enables the volunteer team to function as a productive, effective and cohesive unit that is focussed on one thing: the people we serve.

Within HammondCare Volunteer Services, we are committed to servant leadership: a model where the leader serves the team, rather than the team serving the leader. This turns the traditional organisational pyramid structure upside down. Instead of volunteers “working for” our Volunteer Coordinators, who in turn serve their managers and so on up to the CEO; our volunteers serve the patients, clients and residents, the Volunteers Co-ordinators serve the volunteers, and so on down to the CEO. The ones at the “top” of the structure are the patients, clients and residents. Everyone else is here to serve them.

Sounds good – but how do we actually do it?

A servant leader has ten characteristics:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualisation
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment to the growth of people
  • Building community


Rev. Nixon is the Head of Pastoral Care and Volunteer Services at HammondCare, a health and aged care provider. He leads a team of 70 Pastoral Care Coordinators and Volunteer Coordinators, and over 1,000 volunteers. He is passionate about helping people in need and how the community can really volunteer with purpose.