Attempting to concat these PHP expressions into LI's but it is getting made because the php first and so the LI's...

function getVolArchives() {
    query_posts('category_name=volunteerspotlights&showposts=5');
    while (have_posts()) : the_post();          
        echo '<li>' . the_title() . '</li><li>' . the_date('F') . '</li>';
    endwhile;
}

Clearly, it does not work like I figured it will...can one acquire some help?

Ultimately the TITLE and DATE appear after which two blank LI's... however the answer had been provided to me below. I had been while using wrong Wordpress functions.

You should utilize get_the_title() and get_the_date() rather. In Wordpress, the get_*() versions of functions RETURN their data. Otherwise Wordpress defaults to outputting the information rather.