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Are you going to hold on to current methods or take a big step forward? It’s not time to be a laid back, behind the scenes kind of leader – it is time to be bold.

Use Short-Term Projects to Raise Awareness, Grow Volunteer Base

In this first of three parts, we look at discovering those who are waiting to offer their time and resources to your initiative.

Bang! Like a car backfiring in a dark alley…

It’s not time to be a laid back, behind the scenes kind of leader – it is time to be bold.

You have no choice, but to look. Your attention has been drawn to that sound like a powerful magnet – eyes wide open.

Your “fight or flight” instinct will cause you to analyze the situation – “Do I duck for cover or run?” Your life could be in danger.

What are you going to do? There is a decision to be made.

Believe it or not, that’s exactly the kind of attention that is sometimes needed when attracting potential volunteers and awareness to your organization or ministry.

You may not realize this, but there are many, many more people waiting to offer their time, resources, referrals, and money to your initiative than you would ever imagine!

Studies show, more than 90 percent of people aren’t volunteering simply because they have never been asked! That is not a reason to go without volunteers! [Coincidentally, it’s the same reason why many people don’t go to church]

So, what is that special, effective recruiting formula?

Why do some churches and organizations seem to have no problems filling all their positions and maintain happy, healthy volunteers? Volunteer recruiting is a huge topic that will have a different look for every organization.

There is a complexity to team development that is far beyond the simple but aggressive idea that I’m about to offer. But I’ll still offer it. Then, we can go deeper!   

Now, I’m not suggesting holding a gun to their head. I’m not even suggesting any kind of manipulation to “get” people to do what you want.

There is no integrity in that sort of thinking within your organization. No, what I’m suggesting is finding ways to cut through the noise, so that your message can be heard loud and clear. Then, there is a decision to be made on the part of your audience.

They will be faced with a choice to either help you as a volunteer, with a referral, financially or simply by talking positively about your organization. But first, you have a choice to make.

Are you going to hold on to current methods or take a big step forward? It’s not time to be a laid back, behind the scenes kind of leader – it is time to be bold.

I know what you may be thinking, “I do ask for volunteers. I’ve published announcements. I’ve even stood on stages letting them know we need help. That should be enough, right? People really need to do their part!”

Or, maybe you’ve said, “Building a team takes a long time … I guess I just have to be patient. The workers will come.”  

Let me respond by asking … are those ideas working well for you? Are you using them as excuses for the lack of team growth?

Maybe the occasional volunteer appeal has worked in the past, but now – not so much. Have you ever wondered why?

Yes, maybe you have asked groups of people to volunteer. But have you asked a person? There is a significant difference. And I would love the chance to share these differences with you and how they affect the decision to volunteer.

But first, I’d like to share a story with you. It’s a story of how I used a short-term project to catapult the awareness of a ministry organization, and exponentially grow my volunteer base over the course of months – not years!  

Since 1990, I’ve been writing and producing all types of performance media art. I’ve enjoyed working in recording studios, radio and television production as well as years of volunteer and staff positions in church ministries and not-for-profits.

I’ve filled roles from stage director to music director and worship leader to tech director. I love to design stages and run sound and lights. For five years, I taught audio and music production for a college and different community education organizations.

I also love to write. I’ll write songs, plays, books, ad copy for commercials – you name it! God has given me both the gift of creativity and the technical abilities to see my vision become a reality. And I believe I am supposed to serve Him and others through those gifts.

During those years of productivity and creativity, I would not have been able to accomplish it alone. Much of the work was accomplished by the organization and motivation of volunteers, interns and even other staff members who were all willing to give of their time to accomplish a goal.

And then I accepted a new challenge.

Several years back, I accepted the position of Media Arts Director for a church. So, after living in the Chicago area for almost 20 years, my wife, three boys and I packed up and moved to New York!

Although this is a wonderful church with excellent leadership, the area of media and sound was lacking (with a video ministry being mostly nonexistent). Before taking the position, the leadership challenged me with the notion that I would need to build teams almost from the ground up.  They also wanted a video ministry established with future capabilities of streaming Sunday and Wednesday services.   

Now, this was a large church with three auditoriums and multiple other venues. There were major problems existing with all the sound and lighting systems. Not to mention, there hadn’t been a substantial wiring or equipment upgrade in about 15 years. Also, there were extremely limited funds available for any new endeavors. A video ministry seemed far off at best.

A quick note: The relational infrastructure needed work too. Bridging some gaps between the pastors, tech team and worship team would need to happen without a doubt. But that’s an altogether different topic with a wonderful outcome!

On Friday, September 13, the second part, “Team Development: From Sound Guys to Storytellers,” discussed the steps taken to finish a 22-minute documentary film, with the help of a dozen people, which resulted in great enthusiasm and appreciation by the community as a whole.

(On Tuesday, September 17, the third part, "Team Development: Everyone Wants to Play for a Winning Team," covered some ways to best grow one's volunteer base.)


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