A quick Google search for "recruiting church volunteers" confirms you're not alone in looking to add to your volunteer teams. While there's plenty of helpful advice out there, one often-overlooked method for getting more volunteers is talking with those already on the team.
- Your current volunteers know what motivated them to start serving
- They know what's working well (and what areas could use some improvement)
- They can quickly tell you how they've benefitted from getting involved
That's information you need to identify the best ways to invite more people to volunteer.
So, how do you gather this vital information?
Option #1: One-on-One Conversations
- Invite a volunteer to meet you for lunch. Let him know how much you appreciate him serving and ask for his feedback.
- Chat with volunteers on Sundays
- Ask how things are going that morning.
- Do they need anything (additional supplies, etc.)?
- Do they have any questions or have they run into any issues?
Option #2: Host a Volunteer Meeting
A few times each year, host a meeting with current volunteers (or limit it to volunteer leaders if you have a large team).
- Start the meeting by thanking them for serving
- Share testimonials of people impacted by their work
- Communicate a few key statistics such as the number of baptisms so far this year or the number of people involved in small groups
- Mention how you're constantly looking for ways to improve including communication with volunteers, volunteer training, instructions and information provided in each ministry area, and more. If applicable, report on input they've provided previously and how you implemented those suggestions.
- Next, ask for their input:
- How can we better communicate the need for volunteers?
- What have you learned or experienced while serving that keeps you motivated?
- Have you invited others to start serving? If so, how have people responded? If not, what's holding you back from extending that invitation?
- What training do you wish we'd provided to you when you first started serving?
- What information or training do you need now?
- Are we communicating to you often enough (or even too often)?
- How else can we improve?
- Assign someone to take notes during this meeting while another individual facilitates the discussion. Thank the group for their time and input before wrapping up the meeting.
- Review the notes and decide which suggestions to implement. Then assign someone to those tasks and follow-up until each is complete. At the next volunteer meeting (or sooner, if possible) report to the group the progress made based on their input.
Option #3: Conduct a Survey
This is especially helpful if you think volunteers may be reluctant to be candid during a meeting or if you have a large group of volunteers. SurveyMonkey.com is an easy (and free to a point) tool to use for online surveys.
- Create the survey and email your current volunteers, asking them to take the survey by a specific date. Let them know their responses are anonymous and that you want them to offer their honest opinions.
- Review the survey responses and decide what changes to make based on the input.
- Assign someone on staff the tasks to implement those changes.
- Let your volunteers know what changes you implemented based on the survey.
One key to remember throughout this process: Be open and humble as you receive feedback.
You may hear that a training session you poured your heart into isn't very effective, or that something a staff member didn't do led to volunteers quitting. The input may or may not be fair. That's not the point.
The point is to listen, carefully consider what you're told, and decide what action to take based on that information. Pray and ask God to lead these efforts. Ask Him to help you guard your heart against offense or hurt. Ask for wisdom to know how to proceed. Don't get defensive keep listening and ask questions to help you clearly understand.
There's a wealth of information in your current volunteers. It's up to you to seek out and take action on their feedback.