10 Suggestions On How To Recruit And Retain Volunteers

It doesn’t take long in any ministry to realize that you can’t do everything yourself. It’s impossible. The key to success in ministry then is recruiting leaders and volunteers. But the recruitment phase is just step one. More important than recruiting members of your church to serve in different ministry areas is the ability to keep those volunteers. That is the mark of true leadership.

Below are five recommendations I believe are necessary in recruiting volunteers, followed by five suggestions for retaining those volunteers once you have successfully recruited them.

Publicize

In order to successfully recruit your volunteer team, first they have to be aware that there is a need to serve. That means marketing your needs to the church. Use any and all means necessary available to you to cast as wide a net as possibly. That can mean announcements from the pulpit, presentations to small groups, fliers, brochures, or ads on your website. Whichever marketing strategy you select, don’t forget to be creative. Remember, this is only step one in a process and should never be used as the sole method of recruitment.

Wanted

Personalize

The best way you can gather volunteers is to put your arm around someone’s shoulder and ask them personally. People want to feel needed and valued, and the members of your church are no different. By you taking the time to personally request their help, you are communicating that they are important and are a valuable asset to your team.

Cast Vision

In order for a potential volunteer to follow your leadership you must cast a compelling vision. Help them to see what you see.  This can only be accomplished by clearly communicating the importance of the ministry you are asking them to take part in.

Screen

A screening process is vital to the success of your ministry and allowing the members of your church to use their natural gifting.  Let’s be honest, not everybody who wants to serve in your ministry is qualified. If you are recruiting members to your worship team and your potential volunteer can’t sing, then that’s not the best place for them. Likewise people who hate smiling probably are not best suited for a welcome ministry. For some volunteers you may need to connect them to other ministries. But be sure to help them find another place to serve.

Over Recruit

Sometimes volunteers can’t make it. They have other commitments vying for their time. There is nothing worse than not having enough volunteers to fulfill the ministry requirements you are recruiting for. So over recruit! Enlist enough volunteers that you can incorporate an assignment rotation. That will ensure you always have enough volunteers for your ministry, and help to prevent volunteers from burnout.

Train

As the leaders, you can’t just throw a new volunteer into a position without first training them. Volunteers do not like not knowing what to do. So set them up for success. Let them know exactly what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Provide your volunteers with with a training manual outlining the purpose and mission of the ministry, expectations, contacts, and answer potential questions they may have. Part of their training needs to include the process for notifying there leaders if they will be late or absent so that suitable replacements can be found. If they do miss an opportunity to serve be sure to follow up with them later and let them know that they were missed and are still needed.

Prepare

There is nothing more frustrating to a volunteer than an unprepared leader. Time is valuable to them, so don’t waste theirs by trying to get everything ready for them when they are supposed to be starting. They want you to be prepared for them. Volunteers see this as disorganized and insensitive, which reflects on your leadership, and directly affects their willingness to follow you in the future. Make sure they know exactly where to be and when to be there. And when there service time is up, let them know personally.

Listen

Listen to your volunteers. Let them own the ministry by providing input and recommendations. At the end of the day you are in charge and are responsible for implementing changes, but listen to their ideas and critiques on how to make that ministry better. They have talents and experience in the secular world that you need, because often times their ideas are better than yours.

Appreciate

The most important thing you can do for a volunteer is to say thank you a lot! Recognize the time and energy they are using to help with that particular ministry. You could plan appreciation activities like a regular volunteer party, providing free shirts, present them with awards and recognitions for outstanding service, give them gifts (everybody loves gift cards), provide coffee, or write personalized thank you notes.  Again, be creative with this process.

Communicate

Develop relationships with you volunteers. Communicate with them throughout the week. Pray for them. Remember, your volunteers are people who need ministered to as well.