Let’s face it. We all need volunteers. If it weren’t for volunteers in our churches guests wouldn’t be greeted, kids wouldn’t be taught, and coffee wouldn’t be served. Overall, things wouldn’t get done.
We really need volunteers. Here’s the thing all leaders must keep in mind:
People don’t volunteer because there is a need. People volunteer because they want to make a difference.
I know, I’ve been there. When a voluntary position needed to be filled I’d put out a generic plea to the entire church desperately hoping a warm body would accept the invitation to serve. Sure, every now and then it worked. Someone would step up to the plate and fill the need, but it never lasted.
Then, I realized something. People don’t volunteer to serve simply because we have a need. People volunteer because they want to make a difference.
So let’s change the approach.
When recruiting volunteers, publicly or privately, start explaining why serving makes a difference. It makes a difference in the life of others and the life of the volunteer.
These are my personal do’s and don’ts when recruiting volunteers:
Don’t sound desperate.
When asking people to serve on your team, don’t sound desperate. When you appear desperate, it gives the impression others don’t want to serve in your ministry. People don’t want to be a part of a sinking ship.
Do share stories.
Stories are inspiring. When you share with a person a brief story about a current volunteer, you cast a compelling vision for your ministry. Become a good story teller, and let the story speak for your ministry.
Don’t forget the why.
We are really good at telling people what we want them to do. But even more important than what is why. Don’t just tell a new prospect you want him/her to be door greeter. Explain why you have door greeters, and the importance of a great first impression. People latch on to a great why. (I recommend reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek)
Do let people test drive.
You’re not running a cell phone company that requires a two-year contract. Give potential volunteers a chance to test drive. Ask them to shadow a current volunteer (pick your best one!) to see how things work. Let them “taste and see.”
Don’t be a lone recruiter.
If you’re the only one recruiting new volunteers for your team, somethings missing. People are wired for relationships. In fact, some people will sign up for your team simply because they are friends with someone currently serving. Many times, your best recruiters are your current volunteers!
Do talk about serving as discipleship.
There is a spiritual component to serving. It’s one of the ways we live out our faith, and how we follow the example of Jesus. Don’t be afraid to communicate with people how serving is connected to their spiritual walk.
Recruiting volunteers is more of an art than science. I’d love to hear what’s working for your organization! Comment below.