Finding volunteers and keeping them can be a very difficult task for someone planning events at church. Here are some quick tips for helping you get more yeses and keep volunteers from burning out. Though these efforts may require more of your time at the beginning, they will pay out great dividends in the form of relationships and, hopefully, the number of volunteers at your church.
1. Draw from a Wide Pool
Be as creative as you can to build up a long list of people willing to volunteer. If you ask the same few every time you need help, you may quickly burn those people out. (But if they come to you and sign up, that is their choice!) Try to have a rotation of people you ask for help. Give volunteers time between each request to rest. It can be helpful to keep a notepad or document with a list of names you can add to when you connect with new people.
2. Give Thank-You Notes
Get into a habit of expressing thankfulness and gratitude after every servant opportunity. Blanket thank-you emails or announcements are wonderful, but even a one-sentence personalized text or card can go much further. A person who feels appreciated is much more willing to help again. We know we don’t want people to serve in the church in order to glorify themselves, but we want volunteers to feel valued and loved.
3. Train Volunteers
Educated volunteers who feel knowledgeable and capable can begin to take ownership over tasks. Keep what you ask of volunteers simple and direct. When they know what is going on, they are not flustered or confused or overwhelmed. They can relax into their tasks more, and the actual event can be more enjoyable for everyone. Then the hope is that the same volunteers will feel confident and comfortable enough to help during other events.
4. Hold Social Events
Periodically organize simple social events for volunteers and church members. Ask nothing of attendees—just provide a time to relax, socialize, and bond with other brothers and sisters in the Kingdom. These relationship-building opportunities can be the biggest boost to your volunteer pool. How often are we more willing to do something if a friend is doing it too? If you nurture more friendships, you can draw on them when asking groups to serve.
I can hear you now. “But, Beth, I do not have time to do ALL these things on top of the event planning I already have to do. And I have other responsibilities in addition to that.” I really do understand. But we often overlook the importance of involving people in the act of service. It can be much easier to do things ourselves and call on the same people who already know how to do those things. However, our task is to reach out and share the love of God with all people. See your connections with volunteers as an important part of your work to serve God and love others.