Short on Volunteers? How to Rebuild Your Volunteer Team During Covid-19

The pandemic has been a disruptive force in many aspects of our lives including volunteering. 

Some volunteers have had to step away from volunteering completely, while others have had their roles adapted.

Covid-19 has left many children's and family ministries depleted of volunteers. 

You want your volunteers, kids and parents to be safe and not be put at risk.  

And yet, at the same time, you feel the tension of keeping a ministry afloat that relies upon volunteers.

And in the midst of all of this, in the back of our minds, we are hoping that once the pandemic has subsided, volunteers will flock back.  And the temptation is just to put everything on cruise control and ride this out until things return to normal.

But that may not be the case in many incidents.  You will have to work hard to rebuild your volunteer team.  And the good news is this - you don't have to wait until things get back to "normal." Instead, you can start building/rebuilding your team now by using some of the following principles and tips.

The safety of the people who serve must be a top priority.  This may mean enlisting younger leaders instead of older people who are more prone to being sick and having more complications with the virus.

Remind current and prospective volunteers of the "why."  This is what you should always go back to.  Help people focus on why they are volunteering.  People want to be part of something that is bigger than themselves and your "why" can help them experience that.

Promote your exciting volunteer opportunities.  Share with them the benefits they will gain by serving.  Don't beg. No one wants to be part of a sinking ship.  Instead, promote the amazing things they will get to be a part of by volunteering with you.  A family that loves them and will journey with them.  Lots of fun while serving.  And an opportunity to grow in their faith by serving.

Show appreciation.  Go the second mile to show them you are thankful for their heart for the next generation.  Personally thank them.  Write them thank you notes.  Give them a small gift occasionally.  Spend time with them.  Call volunteers and see how they are doing during the pandemic.  This will show them you are care about them outside of volunteering. When people feel valued and cared for, they will stick around or come back as soon as they feel it is safe.

Keep in close communication.  Inform them of safety measures you are taking to protect the volunteers, children and parents (how you are cleaning things, disinfecting things, masks, etc.).  

Also - changes can happen quickly during this time.  You may have in-person services one week and the next week only have online services.  Be proactive at keeping your volunteers in the know since the changes will affect the flow of your ministry.  I always try to remember this quote...

You can't keep your volunteers in the dark all week and then expect them to shine on Sunday.

Like everything else, this too shall pass.  Eventually things will get back to a normal flow.  How long will that be?  Months?  A few years?  No one knows for sure.  But what we do know is that God is with us and He will supply our volunteer needs as we pray and follow His plans. 

p.s. You can get lots more insight and ideas in my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."  It's available here or on Amazon.