10 Ways to Attract and Keep Volunteers

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Church growth expert and mentor to over 4000 pastors, the late Jack Whitesell, once told me that for every one active volunteer, the church has the ability to effectively minister to 6-8 people! In other words, the church cannot function or grow without volunteers. But volunteers are often difficult to lead and even more difficult to recruit. This is one of the greatest frustrations and problems pastors face. So, here are 10 ways to attract and keep volunteers. 10 Ways to Attract and Keep Volunteers:

  1. Identify their strengths and find the right fit for them. A volunteers growth potential is unlimited inside their strength zone, however outside of their strengths their growth potential is nil. Therefore, as early as you can try to discover your volunteer recruit's strengths and match them to the appropriate tasks.
  2. Recruit them with a personal ask. Many believe the best way to recruit volunteers is from the pulpit. In actuality, the most proven method of recruiting is still the personal ask. The majority of individuals will say yes when approached personally and are asked by a trusted individual.
  3. Tell them the difference they can make by getting involved. Don't just announce a position vacancy. This by itself is not enough to compel most people to become involved. Everybody wants to know that what they are giving their time to is making a difference. When you recruit someone personally, make sure you tell them how they will be making a difference. Often the best way to explain this is with stories and testimonies.
  4. Resist the urge to be need focused. Don't fill a position with just anybody because there is a need. If you don't have the right person with the right set of skills to fill the position, I have found that it is simply better to not run a program in that area of lack than it is to fill it with the wrong person.
  5. A positive atmosphere from current volunteers will attract others. Your best recruiters are your current volunteers. Everybody is attracted to places where there is fun and excitement. If your current volunteers are having fun, are positive and excited about their current roles, others will automatically be drawn to join your team. Therefore, it is vital to treat your current volunteers right and to make their job as positive an experience as you can and when you do, you will seldom lack recruits.
  6. Effectively skill develop the recruited. One of the best ways to keep your current volunteers happy and engaged is with proper training. There is nothing more frustrating than being asked to do a job and then not being adequately equipped to fulfill your duties. Treat your volunteers as you would your most valuable staff (because they are!) and provide the highest quality of training you possibly can.
  7. Maintain a high motivation of the recruited by celebrating their victories. Catch your volunteers doing something right and then make sure you celebrate them and their achievements! But, I would caution you to reward individuals privately and teams publicly. If you make a habit of rewarding individuals publicly you will create a culture of unhealthy competition among the rest of your volunteers and your efforts to motivated will back fire.
  8. Link new volunteers to their team and supervisors
. Another common frustration among volunteers is problems that arise around communication or the lack of it. It is imperative that your new recruits are clear as to who is their direct overseer. There is nothing more frustrating for a volunteer than receiving direction from multiple sources and being unclear as to which one you are accountable to.
  9. Provide regular supervision of the deployed. A common practice in churches that frustrate volunteers is that when we find a person to fill a vacant position we think our work is done and assume they will take care of everything from here on out. This causes immense frustration for volunteers because like everyone else, they have a desire to know how they are doing and if they are doing what is expected of them.  It is imperative to provide every volunteer with ongoing training, supervision, and feedback.
  10. Creatively reward the productive.
 What gets rewarded gets repeated.
 Volunteers don’t get paid but they don’t work for free either. Find creative ways to reward your volunteers just for the time they willingly give regularly for the cause.

Question: What have you found that helps attract and keep volunteers in your organization?