The one resource a leader has that can make or break their ministry is their volunteers. As a new school year kicks off, it's the perfect time to evaluate your volunteers. There's always a certain amount of trepedation for me as we begin to seek out our volunteers and whether or not they will be recommitting for another year. Honestly, it makes me nervous. What if there's no one to serve? What if the current volunteers say, "no"?
At some point we as leaders have to let go that people change. Sometimes, they no longer "fit" in our ministry. Many times their season of life can dictate their commitment. No matter the reason, we have to use this time to ask, invest and encourage our volunteers.
In our preschool ministry, we ask our small group leaders that serve every week with the same kids to make a commitment of service of a year. This commitment starts and ends in August. We spend our summer in preparation asking our small group leaders to make a decision if they want to continue with their commitment.
At times, people have chosen to serve elsewhere. Other times, they have chosen a different age group. Sometimes, they have chosen to become a substitute.
No matter their choice, one thing volunteers appreciate is being asked and not assuming or pressuring them into a choice. Your buy-in with your volunteers increase when they feel like they can change their mind.
Twice a year, we host an event for our volunteers that tries to combine a fun element and a training competent. Our goal is to get as many volunteers there as possible. We want them to feel a camaraderie with their fellow volunteers and loved and appreciated by us. We also want them to feel included on our plans and changes that may be coming. It's also a great time for us to recast our vision for our ministry.
We also invest through email and social media. We have a private Facebook group for our volunteers where we post articles, videos and training pieces. It's been a great tool for getting information out to volunteers.
In addition to hosting fun events for our volunteers, we also try to encourage our volunteers through special occasions. We give them a small gift on their birthdays, breakfast once a month and special treats throughout the year.
Despite all these things, the one encouragement that goes farther than any other is a verbal one - a good old-fashioned face-to-face compliment. Noticing a volunteer going out of their way for a child or a family or even a volunteer showing up consistently to do their job goes a long way for a volunteer. Everyone likes to be noticed for doing a good job. Don't you?
At this time of the year, what ways are you looking to "revamp" how you lead your volunteers?