May 23, 2019

5 Reasons Volunteers Stick Around

A great volunteer team is made up of newbies and veterans.

The newbies bring fresh insight and excitement.

The veterans bring wisdom and stability.

Take a look at your team.  Do you have a good balance of newbies and veterans?

Today, let's talk about how to see new volunteers stick around and become veterans.  For this to happen, you've got to close the back door.  If you don't accomplish this, you will have constant volunteer turn over.

Here's 5 things you can do to see volunteers stick around and go the distance with you.

#1 - Be a leader that volunteers want to serve with If you can't get volunteers to stick around, take a look in the mirror.  In the work place, it is often said that people don't quit a job, rather they quit a boss.  If you've worked under a bad boss, you understand this. 

Treat your volunteers with respect.  Honor them.  Be kind to them.  Show them by your words and actions just how valuable they are.  Care about them, not just because they volunteer, but because they are a friend.

Here's a straightforward way to say it - Don't be a jerk to your volunteers and more of them will stick around. 

#2 - Make sure they are connected to other people on the team. Volunteers stick around because of relationships.  When they feel like they are apart of a family, they will stay connected.  Encourage veterans to mentor and build relationships with newbie volunteers.  Provide opportunities for newbies to get connected.  Three simple words that will help with this - food, fun and fellowship.  Have regular meetings that include nothing but these 3 things on the agenda.

#3 - Pour into them on a regular basis.  Remember - your goal is not to use your volunteers to build the ministry - your goal should be to use the ministry to build volunteers. 

Be focused on what Ephesians says - you are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. 
Spend more time sharing the ministry than you do carrying the ministry.
Think of ways you can invest in volunteers.  Maybe start a small group with them?  Make sure they are attending the adult worship service?  Maybe meet them for coffee at the church and pour into them one-on-one during the week? 
Be more concerned about who they are than about what they do.  If you can help them be who they are supposed to be in Christ, then they will do what they are supposed to do for the honor and glory of God.  
#4 - Give them opportunities for growth and advancement.  As they prove themselves faithful for at least a year, give them the opportunity to step into more responsibility. 

Have you ever been in a job where there was no room for advancement?  Not very fun, is it?  You felt like you would be stuck doing the same old, same old for the rest of your life.  

Some of you reading this are in need of some new staff members.  You've searched through all the staffing websites, but can 't find anyone that would be a good fit.  All the while, your next staff member may be one of your volunteers.  This is a great scenario because the person already knows you and has the DNA of the ministry.  

At the last church I served at, we had 72 children's ministry staff members.  Out of the 72, only 5 were brought in from the outside.  The remaining 67 staff members started out as voluneers that we poured into.

If you will give volunteers the opportunity to step up into a role with more responsibility and focus, you might just find your next staff member.   

#5 - Make sure they are in a role that lines up with their interest and gifting.  Ask potential volunteers up front what role they are interested in.  More than likely they will respond by saying, "Put me anywhere you need me to be."

The problem with doing this is the fact that where you place them may not line up with their personality, passion and gifting.  

Remember...
Don't place people where you need them.   Instead, place them where they need to be.  And the place where they need to be is where they are passionate and gifted.
If you are having a lot of volunteer turn around, then this could be the problem.  You are placing volunteers where they end up serving out of duty instead of delight.  And this will eventually cause them to quit.

Take a look at your current volunteer team.  See any veteran volunteers that have been with you since the beginning?  See any Millennials?

Are you keeping people on your team?  Work on the things listed above and you will see volunteers that stick around and go the distance with you.

For more volunteer insight, check out my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."
It's available at this link in ebook and paperback.

Your turn.  How do you keep volunteers on your team long-term?  What causes Millennials to stick around?  How do you pour into your volunteers?  Share your thoughts, ideas and insight in the comment section below.

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