Getting and keeping volunteers is always a challenge. But the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) has provided a silver lining: In 2010, volunteer program managers in Minnesota reported that people hit by unemployment often turn to volunteering to gain skills and references. In their study, “66 percent of those organizations experiencing increased inquiries about volunteering indicated the increase was primarily driven by unemployed people.” Getting and keeping volunteers can be hard, but there are people out there who are looking for a place to serve. Here are tips for finding and keeping new volunteers for your ministry.
- Reach out to younger volunteers. According to the MAVA, two of the fastest growing volunteer groups are students looking or about to start looking for jobs, as well as “millennials.” I fell under both of those categories when I first started looking at a church to work at, and I ended up staying there for six years. This group is eager, energetic, and can provide positive role models for your kids. If you live near a college, find out if it has any Christian organizations, like a Baptist Campus Association, Wesley Foundation, or a Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Contact their leader and ask if you can put up flyers asking for volunteers.
- Be specific. When asking for volunteers, be specific with your needs. Ambiguity can equate to insecurity for a volunteer. While we all love a volunteer who can be a “wild card” and do anything we ask for, that person is not always easy to find. To get people interested, you need to let them know what they’ll be doing and how long they will be doing it. Let them know exactly what your expectations are.
- Get personal. A personal connection goes a long way in getting people to walk into your ministry. Here’s a challenge: Ask each of your current volunteers to talk to two people in the upcoming week. One should be someone they are friends with and they think could be a good fit for your ministry. The other should be someone they don’t get to see or sit by too often. This helps build connections and contacts and will give your volunteerism a boost.
- Stay connected. Communication is key in any relationship, and your volunteers are no different. They need to hear from you and you need to hear from them. Have meetings, but keep them at a reasonable length and try to schedule them when the most can come (a midday meeting will miss anyone working business hours). At your meetings, encourage your team. Let them know that what they do really matters. Share your vision with them and get them excited about it. And let them share their questions and concerns.
- Make the position fit your volunteer instead of the other way around. I like skits but I have friends who don’t like doing any kind of drama. Ask some teachers to lead music, and they’ll definitely come back for more the next week. Ask other teachers (who aren’t as musical) to lead music, and you won’t have them around for long. Your volunteers should be able to enjoy themselves in ministry, too!
That’s what’s great about Group’s new DIG IN curriculum. The innovative DIG IN lesson builder enables you to tailor lessons so teachers teach the way God wired them to teach. That’s guaranteed to put a smile on your volunteers’ faces! And happy volunteers mean they’ll stick around longer.