10 Ways Volunteers Spell A-P-P-R-E-C-I-A-T-E

The fall is a busy time for not only the church, but also the individuals who normally serve as volunteers. Just as you’re needing more help than ever, it can be more challenging to get even your regulars to step up.

These tips aren’t just for the holidays. They’re the foundation you lay for seamless volunteer coverage year-round. However, we think you can use them now to help you define your immediate needs, craft your recruiting messages to get results, and ponder better ways to show your gratitude.

We know you appreciate your volunteers, but…

The fact remains that one of the most common issues at the root of volunteer shortages centers around appreciation and value. These awesome folks serve for free, so you have to make sure the experience is one they’ll want to continue doing. That means you must understand their mindset—and what it takes to make them feel appreciated.

Church volunteers are not usually after monetary compensation (though they’re not opposed to gifts!) nor do they dream of being crowned Volunteer of the Year at your largest service of the year, while confetti flies around them and the crowd cheers. The type of people who volunteer typically do so for their own intrinsic reasons: the joy of serving, a sense of responsibility, a desire to be involved. In most cases, that’s all the reward they need.

What they want, on the other hand, is simple, but more challenging than thank you notes or appreciation dinners. (Do those, too.)

Church volunteers want to:

Know what they’re getting into and not get stuck there forever (so communicate clearly defined role descriptions and cycles)

  • Be assigned to roles that match their gifts and interests
  • Be trained and empowered
  • Have an opportunity to be considered for high-capacity roles (leadership and coordinator roles vs. busy or manual work)
  • Be able to make suggestions and know they are heard (how about an exit-interview or survey at the end of every role cycle?)
  • Spend more time doing than having meetings or talking about doing
  • Work in a fun, cooperative, efficient environment
  • Not be excluded from an “insider” group
  • Feel that the work they do makes a difference
  • Know their time is valued (as shown by efficient, error-free scheduling and reminder emails)

In other words, church volunteers feel appreciated when staff is organized, intentional, and respectful of their time, ideas, and talents. [Tweet that!] That may be a high bar to set this time of year, but if you tuck this volunteer wish-list into your holiday recruiting toolbox (and consider some church volunteer software), you could conceivably make some new volunteer friends for the season…and beyond!

Your turn: Volunteers, what’s your volunteering pet peeve?

Coming soon: Recruiting Super Greeters for High-Volume Events