So what does church volunteer management involve?
Identification of Volunteer Needs
Churches have countless volunteer needs and identifying what those needs are is the first step. The obvious roles are ushers, greeters, children’s ministry, bookstore, etc. but sometimes it can also be a role that fulfills an unmet need that is not so obvious. For example, the large church I attend has multiple services so a volunteer role was developed as a restroom attendant to keep the facilities clean, tidy and stocked for the thousands of people who pass through in a morning.
Volunteer Application Process
Church volunteers should be required to go through a formal application process. This creates consistency and entails filling out some paperwork that collects basic demographic information. This information is then entered into a volunteer database which stores all volunteer information including hours worked, areas served, job interests, skills, etc.
Volunteer Screening Process
All volunteers should be screened using personal references as well as a criminal background check. When a volunteer is placed in a position of responsibility or authority it is important to be aware of any issues they may have had in their past. As Christians we know that a rebirth can change sinful patterns but it is only wisdom to not allow someone who has had issues with theft to help count the offering. Personal references are also an added layer of protection and is a great way to get to know them, understand their interests and get a feel for what the right position for them might be. A personal interview and conversation can be beneficial on all levels as it sends a message to the volunteer that they are valued and the organization has an interest in them.
Volunteer Job Assignment
Volunteers should be placed in the job that best fits their personality and skill-set. All volunteer roles should have a well defined role description to ensure the volunteer has a good understanding of what is expected of them and detail of job tasks. For example, a volunteer who helps usher should know what time they need to be there, who they need to report to, where to find needed supplies and how to respond in an emergency situation.
Orientation and training helps provide a smooth transition and good experience for a new volunteer. It can be an awkward and uncomfortable situation to be placed in a role and not know what to do or who to go to with questions. It is important to provide training and the opportunity to ask questions as a volunteer learns their new role.
Volunteers are like employees in that they need to be supervised and managed. And like employees, issues arise that need to be managed. It is for this reason that it is important to have a clear chain-of-command and a good understanding of who is responsible for dealing with potential issues that arise. For example, if a volunteer worked in children’s ministry and it was observed that the volunteer was rude to a parent or inappropriate with a child, a supervisor should kindly pull the volunteer aside and address the issue. Dealing with issues kindly, directly and quickly is the best way to keep them from becoming bigger than they are.
Communicating with Volunteers
Good communication is one of the most important aspects of managing any organization. People who are involved with and support a church or ministry have a vested interest in what is going on and crave communication. So whether it is communicating upcoming events, newest members to the team or other positive church endeavors, a good communication process should be established. Technology today makes this process quick and easy so it is important to develop clear and consistent communication processes for the volunteer team.
Volunteer Reward and Recognition
Volunteers invest often hundreds of hours every year to support the local church and should be recognized for doing so. A volunteer program should have a structured reward and recognition program to thank the volunteers for their countless hours of support. National volunteer week is in April every year so this is a great time to hold festivities to show appreciation to those who serve the church.
Church volunteer management is a critical role in any ministry. Larger Churches may have the resources to have a paid staff person to oversee the volunteers but successful programs can be built with volunteer labor. It requires great organization, clear communication and above average people skills. Managing those who give their time is no small task and should be done with excellence and grace.
Does your church have a formal volunteer management program?