Practical advice for providing your volunteers with the best experience possible
Successful volunteer engagement doesn’t just happen. Volunteers aren’t generally beating down your door, begging to serve your church or ministry program. Although volunteers may bring a wealth of education or experience, they still need to learn how their involvement connects to the vision of your church or ministry program, and what expectations there may be for how they serve. Volunteers are ‘donating’ their time and energy to serve your church or ministry program and need to experience an efficient process and that they are adding value to a program.
What follows are resources that will help churches and ministry programs as they seek to engage their volunteers so they feel valued and can flourish in their roles.
Volunteer Engagement Strategy
Developing an effective strategy for engaging people in ministry gives meaning and purpose to the many tasks and responsibilities taken on by volunteers. It will ensure that people who give of their precious time will experience an efficient process and feel they are adding value to a program. In order to assist you in developing an effective Volunteer Engagement Strategy, ServiceLink has prepared a document outlining 13 Tips for Engaging God's People in Ministry.
Discover Your Gifts
Faith Alive Christian Resources has a series of 'Discover Your Gifts' leader guides and student books and an online survey. The survey and interactive guides will assist members of your congregation to identify their spiritual gifts and how to apply those gifts to build up the church and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in the world.
Volunteer Engagement Series
ServiceLink, the Volunteer Services program of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, has prepared this series of ‘Successful Volunteer Engagement’ articles. Based on advice from experts in the field of volunteer management and engagement, these brief articles are intended to help you better understand your volunteers, their needs and motivations, and to tailor your volunteer program to effectively recruit, train, supervise and recognize your volunteer workforce. Many of the principles and suggestions outlined in these articles can also be applied to the recruitment and encouragement of volunteers within the church.
This series is divided into the topic headings listed below. Each article is just a brief summary of the most important principles for a segment of the volunteer engagement cycle. Additional resources and training, including workshops focused on one or more topics, is available from ServiceLink.
Before filling any volunteer position you must clearly define what the volunteer is expected to do. The first article in this Volunteer Engagement Series helps you to design job descriptions for new or existing volunteer positions.
2 - Recruitment
Who to look for, where to find them
Once you have defined the volunteer position you need to fill, how do you get the message to qualified candidates?
- Recruiting volunteers within your congregation - ideas for identifying, approaching and retaining volunteers
- Recruitment Marketing Checklist - ideas for recruiting volunteers from within the general community
No longer can you simply accept any and every potential volunteer who walks through your doorway. For insurance and legal reasons, you must carry out due diligence in your volunteer approval process.
- Click here to read an article from 'Volunteer Canada' on the value of screening volunteers.
Once you have agreed to accept a volunteer, you can’t just drop them into the culture of your organization, and certain tasks to be performed by the volunteer may require training.
Volunteers both need and expect to be treated in a professional manner. How do you supervise without ‘babysitting’, and what is the most effective way to evaluate volunteer performance?
While all the previous steps in this series are intended to help your organization or ministry to achieve positive volunteer relations, occasionally problems do arise and volunteers need to be disciplined or dismissed. How do you go about doing this without harming the reputation of your ministry or organization, and maintaining morale among staff and other volunteers?
What are your volunteers looking for? Understanding their motives and needs will not only make for a better workplace environment, but it will also contribute to volunteer retention and will enhance your organization’s reputation as a positive place for serving as a volunteer.
- Looking for some practical tips for recognizing volunteers within your church. Check out these 10 Tips for Recognizing Church Volunteers.pdf.
The following organizations host websites with extensive information, including many downloadable guides, resources and best practices, for effective and successful volunteer engagement.