Thoughts on Volunteers

Obviously, everything we do is dependent on volunteers. We’re a volunteer driven organization. We depend on people giving and people serving. So volunteers, are huge. Here are a few random thoughts I have on the topic of volunteers.

1. I think the key to volunteer recruitment and retention is organization. Volunteers will not rush in to jump on a sinking ship. This is why begs and pleas for workers in a service don’t work. People are skeptical of a ministry in dramatic need. But if something is working smoothly, and they can play a part, they will WANT to be a part of it. Something that is accomplishing it’s mission is attractive. We have a guy that recently took over product creation, and one thing that helped with that is that he saw it being done, saw the finished product and was able to just take over. He’s now doing more than we could and he’s making it his own. He didn’t have to invent the wheel…He took something that was working pretty good and ran with it.

2. Every volunteer should have a clear picture of their roll, their job description, the time requirements, and who they go to with problems. This is organization and clearly communicating expectations. I think every volunteer should have a simple, written job description.

3. There is no substitute for personal invitations, phone calls and face to face asks. This works 500% better than me talking about it from the stage. And the fact that the request comes from another volunteer increases the meaning even more.

4. Making sure volunteers have what they need, are given opportunities to suggest improvements, and are encouraged all the time is huge. Eric, the guy in charge of our setup team, just showed me a t-shirt design that he’s making for the set up crew, and he wants to plan a day at the lake. That’s community right there, and it makes volunteering more like family. Anything and everything you can do to appreciate volunteers is exponential. In a few weeks, we’re throwing a HOE DOWN for all our volunteers…complete with square dancing with a real caller, some good food, and just a chance to hang out with families.

5. A great source for volunteers is the volunteers. Who do they know? They will not know anyone off the top of their head, but there are lots of people that they could ask to join them. Think of a guy moving and needing help loading a moving truck. He’d call people. There are people out there who want to feel needed just waiting to be asked. We shouldn’t say no FOR people…they just need to ask. And a friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc. is more likely to volunteer if they will be serving along side someone they know. I think every volunteer should know that one of their top three jobs is to replicate themselves.

6. Some great books on volunteers are simply strategic volunteers and the volunteer revolution. Both of these books are worth reading if you have the time and will increase your vision for volunteers, and therefore, ministry.

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