Originally published Tuesday, 15 July 2014.
Volunteers are the catalyst behind any effective ministry, nonprofit, or church. They extend the work, the reach, beyond just the doors of the facility. They talk about the work with their families. They advertise for you. They are passionate and work hard because of it.
Aside from moving through different seasons of life, many volunteers leave their position because they feel they are undervalued or underutilized. Therefore, it is important that we train volunteers well and use them!
- Get to know your volunteers. How many children do they have? Where do they work? What are they passionate about? What is their cat’s name? People want to know you care. They want to know they aren’t just a number.
- Learn the skill set of your volunteers. Maybe you have an immediate need for data entry at your organization and someone steps forward to do that. However, if we make the intentional effort of learning the skillset of the volunteer that serves, we may find that they are gifted in graphic design, Bible teaching, website development, etc. We like to get a resume on every volunteer to help us with this task.
- Have a plan. Please. Have you ever volunteered with a church or at an event with dozens of other people? Maybe there was a big push to get volunteers at this big 5K Fundraising Event and so you showed up and found that most of your time was spent standing around with nothing to do. Ugh. I have volunteered countless times when I literally was digging for something to do. Don’t let this be your volunteers. Thoroughly plan the needs you have for your program. Do you need more prayer warriors? Babysitters? Food service team? Facebook gurus? Whatever your needs are have them listed. Assign volunteer coordinators and leaders to different teams to help with organization.
- Praise your volunteers. People go where they are valued. Take time to take them to dinner. Take time to host a private lunch for them. Text them. Call them. Let them know that their service is important to your ministry.
- More IS merrier. Never, never, never tell a potential volunteer that you have nowhere to use them. Sometimes this volunteer opportunity is the very thing they need to move into a leadership role. Maybe it is the very thing God has called them to do. Maybe this volunteer was called to launch a single moms program in another church and this service will give them the confidence to do so. Volunteering gives value. Don’t miss an opportunity to bless someone else with the opportunity to serve.
Jennifer Maggio is the founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. TLSM has helped more than 1200 churches in 19 countries better minister to their single mothers. She is the award-winning author of several books and has a heart to see single parents and hurting women living a life of total freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.