4 Tips on Managing Church Volunteers

Effective volunteer management is critical to the success of any nonprofit, church or ministry organization.

Many churches rely heavily on volunteer labor because they don’t have the resources for paid staff.

Successful churches have systems and processes in place to oversee and manage volunteers to ensure two things – a great worker experience and to make certain that volunteer jobs are performed correctly.

A well-run volunteer program creates the infrastructure to support the management and oversight of church volunteers.

4 Tips on Managing Church Volunteers

1.  Communicate Clear Expectations

Volunteers donate their time and should be provided with clear job expectations, a detailed volunteer job description and orientation to the organization.

Good communication on the front-end can eliminate unnecessary issues on the back-end. This means that communicating what it is volunteers are expected to do, can help volunteers successfully perform job duties.

For example, an usher who is assigned to distribute offering envelopes needs to know where to find those supplies. Training should include a walking tour to show volunteers where needed supplies and equipment are located.

2. Provide Tools and Training to Perform Job Tasks

Volunteers who have a positive experience will enjoy their assigned job and will be excited about helping.

Detailed training for job assignments is critical to this process so that volunteers understand exactly what the expectations are for performing their job duties.

For example, a new volunteer in the children’s ministry will need to be trained on the proper approach to dealing with child behavior issues.

This means communicating clearly what is, and isn’t acceptable discipline for unruly children.

This type of communication and training helps the volunteer understand how to respond to issues they will deal with while in their volunteer role.

3. Recognize Volunteer Contributions

Successful churches have systems and processes in place to oversee and manage volunteers to ensure two things – a great worker experience and to make certain that volunteer jobs are performed correctly.Just like employees, volunteers should be recognized and rewarded for good performance.

This can be something as simple as a handwritten thank you note, or as complex as recognition at an annual volunteer banquet.

Regardless, taking the time to think about what volunteers contribute, and recognizing them for their efforts, goes a long way in making them feel valued.

For example, if volunteers are working long hours to cover areas that are experiencing a shortage of volunteers, take some time to let the volunteers know that their hard work did not go unnoticed.

4.  Celebrate Successes

Anyone who has been involved in a church event understands that it take a lot of work to pull it off successfully,  Celebrating a successful event is a great way to acknowledge all of the hard work that went into it.

For example, I’ve seen churches spend months building campus Christmas displays that require hours of labor. Taking some time after a major event, and celebrating the successes, reinforces the contributions volunteers make.

Most churches could not function without the countless hours of volunteer labor.  Taking the time to develop a volunteer program, which facilitates the process of managing volunteers effectively, is critical to a great volunteer experience.

What tips do you have for managing church volunteers?

photo by: LizWest

Article originally published December 2011, updated May, 2014.


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