A church requires a team to help drive its mission forward and maintain its position in the community, which is why volunteers are a crucial part of church fabric. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to come by volunteers, and it can feel like a job in itself to recruit passionate volunteers who are going to support the church and ensure that everything can run smoothly. While many leaders may make general announcements about volunteer opportunities, this can often lead to little or no response. Instead, a proactive action plan is required to maintain a healthy amount of volunteers who can support the church across many different areas. In order to support your church in recruiting volunteers, we’ve created a practical guide that can give you direction in finding passionate people and ensuring your church remains supported by volunteers all year round.
In this guide we will cover;
- How to spread the word about church volunteering opportunities
- Understanding the roles that are required from your church volunteers
- Making church volunteering work for the volunteer
- Shout about the impact of being a volunteer at the church
- Why a small amount of training can retain your volunteers
- How to ask your congregation directly to volunteer
- Appealing to a wide range of volunteers
Spread the Word
You probably have many varied volunteering roles available within the church, but only your congregation know about them. However, there are many people who are looking to make an impact on their local community and do something altruistic in their lives. By opening out your volunteering opportunities to a wider audience you can capture an audience who are passionate about helping others. But if you don’t share the opportunities these people won’t know they exist.
As the leader of the church take the opportunity to go to other local community events with the mission to make more people aware of the volunteering opportunities. Whether you attend networking events, or more social meetup style events, there are lots of places locally that would allow you to talk about the volunteering required at the church. Seek out places you can visit, and after you’ve got a feel for the group as the organiser if you could stand up and talk about volunteering.
Social media channels are the perfect way to spread the word about volunteering opportunities. From posting on Facebook and Twitter about the current positions available to doing a short video on what your church really needs help with. You can reach a much wider audience locally with social media than you can do with speaking to your church attendees alone. Ensure to push out regular volunteer posts so that people are aware of the opportunity.
Creating an email newsletter amongst your church attendees is a great way to keep them updated with events going on in the church, but also provides you with another way to update them on your volunteering needs. Perhaps many of them aren’t aware there’s an opportunity, or perhaps they forgot, and now this is a gentle reminder.
If you send out printed newsletters with updates about the church and events going on in the local area, this can also be an ideal space to include notifications about volunteering opportunities. Adding in a little snippet about the current requirements you need from volunteers can expand your reach.
Many people may assume that there’s only one way to volunteer. Limiting volunteering in this way can put people off from supporting the church when in reality there are probably many areas that volunteers can help with.
Groups or Roles
Make a decision if you’d like a group of volunteers for one project or whether you’d like to set out specific volunteering roles. For example, would you like a group that supports the church events, setting out the chairs and putting up the decorations, or would you like an individual volunteer to help maintain the grounds of the church? Offering a wider range of roles can ensure you’re attracting a variety of volunteers. After all, some people may be looking to volunteer to make friends and feel part of the community or others may simply want to do something solo that gives them a chance to use their hobby or learn something new.
Connecting with Passions and Purpose
We each have our own passions and purpose for why we volunteer, and tapping into that on an individual level can enable you to attract volunteers who feel connected to their volunteering role. For example, if someone loves to work with children then opening up a position to help with child-related activities is ideal. The key is to not be too generic with your volunteering roles and truly think about the people who would be ideal for specific positions.
Make it Flexible
People lead very busy lives in our modern times, and volunteering may appear to be a commitment that is just too much on top of working and maintaining a household, so try to be flexible with volunteering opportunities. If volunteering for the church becomes too demanding it will not only stop them from continuing, but it will deter them from recommending it to others in their local community.
No Strings Attached
Creating no-strings-attached volunteering events is a fun and noncommittal way of gaining volunteers. This allows people to come together on one big project, where they can take part anytime. This could include being part of a church rejuvenation where people can come along and clean an area, or keeping the church garden weed free. Try to take the rigid hours out of it, and you may be surprised at how many people come along.
One-off volunteering projects are another great way to get people supporting the church without feeling tied to a regular commitment. Shouting about one-off support can help you to appeal to people who have a little spare time but want to do something positive and helpful at that time. Think about those small things that you’d love for someone to do, that isn’t limited by time.
Shout About Impact
Many people want to make a significant contribution in their lives but don’t really know how, or where to go. The church can be this place. The trouble is, many people aren’t aware of the impact that church volunteering can have on the community. Shouting about the impact of volunteering projects allows people who are thinking about volunteering to truly see the real-life impact, and feel inspired to be part of it. If you’re volunteering project has done something special, you need to share it.
Blog About It
Talking about your church volunteering projects on the blog of the church website allows people within the church to see what’s going on, and allows people locally to see what the church has been doing in the community. This is ideal if people are purposefully searching for ways they can volunteer locally.
Post it on Social
Whether you create a video or post a few pictures; share the impact of a volunteering project and how it’s made a difference. Only by seeing it can we often believe it. And social media has the power to share these stories and make people see how the church can help them become part of a bigger change.
Let the Press Know
If the church volunteers have done something great, then letting the local press know about this is another wonderful way to share the success of the project and make others aware the volunteering opportunities are available. After all, everyone loves a positive news story.
Train to Retain
An area that often gets forgotten when recruiting church volunteers is training. Training isn’t simply about hard skills, it’s about making sure they understand the mission of the church and why volunteering makes such an impact on the wider community. As well as making them understand the culture of the church, they should also be trained on any code of conduct to ensure their actions and language is supportive of those they work alongside. Training shouldn’t be a long drawn out process, but having a thorough onboarding program can inspire people, make them feel excited, and empowered to do their best possible work for the church.
One of the most obvious ways to gain volunteers is to actively ask your congregation. This may feel daunting at first, but there are a few things to bear in mind before you jump in with the big question. First of all, ensure you’ve built a relationship with that person. They need to trust you, and you need to have a good understanding of their character and whether they actually have the capacity to be a volunteer. It’s no good asking someone outright when you’re not aware of their circumstances. The second thing to be aware of is their passions and purpose, are the volunteering needs you currently require suitable for this person? Would they actually be interested? Once you’re aware of these things, you can have more confidence in being direct and asking if they would be interested in supporting the church.
Making it Relevant to Everyone
Anybody of any age can make a great church volunteer, but it’s important to make each audience aware that they can help out in some way. Making volunteering roles relevant to each age group in the local community can ensure you create a more diverse group of volunteers who can support the church in different capacities.
While teenagers may be the most difficult audience to attract to the church volunteering projects, there are ways you can appeal to their needs. When it comes to youth volunteers make them aware of how volunteering at the church can support their career prospects and increase their employability while learning new skills. Helping out at events, or even doing a few rejuvenation tasks can help them to add more skills to their CV and show their willingness to learn new things.
Finding things to do as a family can be difficult, so appeal to the fun factor for families with young children. Not only do the parents get to support a project and get out of the house, but the children get to be part of the experience and learn about the importance of volunteering in the community. Families are ideal volunteers for child-friendly events and outdoor activities.
Many older people may not feel that they can actively help as much as younger volunteers, but they can provide much-needed assistance in the church. Elderly people long to help and feel part of the community and not be alone. So sharing the impact of making friends and giving them a purpose during their retirement is a great way to make them realise they can volunteer.