Jim Sweeney • December 16, 2015
Churches around the country depend on loyal volunteer labor and ministry. These dedicated members faithfully give you their time and perform countless functions that otherwise would go undone.
Keeping your volunteers happy and managing their time is crucial to the success of any ministry. Here are five ways to keep your team members excited and engaged:
One of the easiest ways to keep your volunteers happy is to thank them for their work. Never underestimate the power of a spoken “thank you,” but doing something bigger to show your appreciation can go a long way. Handwritten notes and gift cards to a local book store or ice cream shop are a great way to show them that they mean something to you.
Consider acknowledging them publicly, as well. A simple sentence honoring their work during a Sunday sermon can truly keep your volunteers motivated, as well as encourage other members to donate their own time.
When working with your volunteers, it’s important to think about how they want to help, in addition to what your church’s needs are. Find out what their spiritual gifts are, and in light of their response ask them if they’d be interested in working within a particular part of your ministry.
Assigning someone a task that they have no interest or skill in can result in a resentful or alienated volunteer who is unlikely to return. Take time to find out what your volunteers' strengths are and where their interests lie, and do your best to find the right match.
Ensuring that a volunteer feels equipped to handle his or her task is extremely important. Be sure to clarify exactly what is required of them and, if possible, pair them with an experienced volunteer to be sure to best prepare them for success. And, of course, make sure they have the required equipment and material.
Having frequent check-ins with your volunteer staff to see how they’re doing is also important. You want them to feel like they have your support should they ever seek it.
No matter how dedicated your volunteers are, donating their time is something they choose to do — and they can choose not to do it as well. Volunteers have other responsibilities. While it’s tempting to ask for more and more from the people who’ve already given a lot, don't push too much or you might lose them. If you promise someone they will have to do a job only for two months, honor that promise.
As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” In some cases, volunteers might not perform as well as you had hoped or to the level you would expect from paid staff. Offer correction or help if it’s needed, but never criticize a volunteer who did his or her best, but fell short.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a group of volunteers who are more than happy to help. If it’s obvious that your volunteers are well regarded and appreciated, you’ll likely have others asking how they can help, too.
Happy volunteers are the basis for a wonderful church body. For other fresh ideas on to engage your community, download How to Reach and Engage Your Congregation in a Digital World.