What Volunteers Want

What Volunteers Want
August 17, 2017 Bob D'Ambrosio

When it comes to volunteering, people today have many options. The church is no longer the only game in town when people are deciding where to serve.

Last weekend I volunteered at the 34th annual Sculpture in the Park show in Loveland, Colorado. With a team of over 500 volunteers and a professional manager who coordinates the service of all those volunteers, it was a great opportunity to experience volunteering at a community organization. Let me tell you—I was impressed.

Here are six ways this event met the needs of its volunteers:

  1. Perks. Volunteers love to receive personal benefits when serving. Sculpture show volunteers received free admission to any of the three ticketed events—a $14 value! When the shift was over, volunteers were able to enjoy the sculpture and art exhibits. Volunteers also received a free event T-shirt.
  2. Provisions. I packed my own bag of snacks, water, and sunscreen—only to find it was unnecessary. Each volunteer station had all the personal supplies needed, including hand sanitizer, tissues, bottled water, first aid, and lots of goodies. (I love snacks!)
  3. Supplies. Volunteers were equipped with the supplies needed for each assignment. A walkie-talkie was also available in case items ran low, and supply refills were just a call away.
  4. Orientation. Even before volunteers arrived, each person received a volunteer handbook in the mail. (Yes, a printed booklet, sent via snail mail with a real stamp.) The handbook outlined the duties and responsibilities of each position, provided answers to frequently asked questions, and addressed topics such as dress code, where to park and check-in, and included an event map. I knew exactly what was expected of me and reported for duty feeling well-prepared.
  5. Support. Each volunteer team had a leader who checked in throughout the shift. In addition to the team leader, the department leader and volunteer manager made frequent visits for affirmation, encouragement, and to provide assistance as needed. I never felt I’d been placed in a position and then abandoned to fend for myself.
  6. Team Spirit. Volunteers working this event had a visual presence—a themed T-shirt and name badge. There was a volunteer check-in station located at the entrance as well as a volunteer break room. Sculpture artists from around the world keep thanking volunteers for their assistance which created team synergy and made everyone feel empowered and appreciated.

Do the volunteers at your church experience this level of support? Equipping volunteers to do what they signed up to do will energize them and keep them coming back for more. As for me—I signed up to volunteer next year.


[For more tips on leading volunteers, join us October 4-6, 2017 at Group, in Loveland, Colorado, for Building an Equipping Church.  Click here for more information.]

Bob D’Ambrosio is a 25-year veteran of frontline church ministry and now serves with Group’s content solutions team. He’s a trainer for volunteer equipping, a Refresh the Church blogger, and a ministry coach for Group U. Bob is a contributing author and general editor of the E4:12 Bible Study Series Better Together: Connecting to God and Others and Leading Out: Connecting People to Purpose.


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