5 Effective Keys to Recruiting and Nurturing Your Volunteers

5 Effective Keys to Recruiting and Nurturing Your Volunteers

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How many times have you stood up in front of your congregation to present a plea for a volunteer or two? Whether it was for serving on a committee, teaching Sunday School, chaperoning a youth trip, or serving as a lay reader, be truthful with yourself — has this been the most successful means of finding the best skills and availability to fill this volunteer position? While this may be the most efficient way to check the task of recruiting off of your to do list, there actually are more effective ways of matching the gifts of your parishioners to the volunteer positions that need to be filled.

Let’s get one key fact out in the open before I go any further:
There is no quick and easy fix for recruiting and keeping your volunteers. This will take some time and effort.
On the other hand, if you put the following practices into place, you will have much more success in effectively filling the volunteer positions you have. You will also help your volunteers to succeed such that they may wish to continue in their volunteer roles, making your recruiting job easier as time goes on.

Pray
Begin your recruiting process by grounding yourself in the trust that God will be guiding you every step of the way. Give any negativity or fears to God, and seek the joy that can be found in this ministry.
 
"I have had success with intentional pairing of volunteers, especially previous confirmands and their mentors."

- Kristin Putney, Director of Faith Formation, Youth, & Family Ministries, Seekonk (MA) Congregational UCC

Start Early
February is not too early to begin looking for volunteers for what you have planned in the fall. This will allow you to begin talking with your current volunteers, followed by making lists of potential volunteers (the ones you wish to contact first, as well as the ones who make up your second string), and sending initial e-mails describing the position and the expectations. Be sure to examine the gifts of each person on your list so that you can effectively match their gifts and skills with the tasks you need them to do. Ask other church staff members for their assessment of the people on your list as well.

Means of Communication for Recruiting
Utilize as many means of communication as possible for seeking potential candidates to contact. Here are some you will want to consider:  Sunday bulletin, monthly newsletter, phone calls, e-mails, texts, face-to-face, bulletin board, Facebook, Twitter, postcards, your church’s website, fliers, Instagram. Get as creative as possible!
 

"Start small. Ask for shorter time commitments such as once or twice a month, and provide support such as training, mentoring, and supplies."

- Kristin Putney

Timing

Set aside some time each week to make your recruitment calls. This way the task of recruiting will not become overwhelming.

Support and Thanks
Make plans for how you will train, oversee, nurture, and thank your volunteers — weekly, monthly, and annually. Many of the most appreciated ways of thanking are the simplest. Outside of beginning with prayer, this may be the most important step, for a volunteer who feels needed and supported will most likely avoid burnout and may want to continue into the future as one of your most committed volunteers.

 

"Most of my volunteers are flattered that they have been asked. They realize that their gift of time with their church family is priceless. They know that 'it takes a village' and feel proud to be a part of it."

- Kristin Putney

The pandemic has made the recruiting of volunteers a little more challenging, yet people want to feel needed and know that they have something to offer. You can help them to nurture these desires by creating an atmosphere of collegiality and support, guiding them in creating sustaining relationships as they serve, utilizing their God-given gifts for the benefit of the church.

Visit the Faith Formation Team’s new Recruiting and Nurturing Volunteers webpage for more information and resources.

 

Author

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Debbie Gline Allen

Debbie Gline Allen serves as a Minister of Faith Formation on the Conference’s Faith Formation Ministry Team. She also serves as the administrator of the SNEUCC Faith Formation Leadership Program.  Her passion for ministry is with children and family...

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