Are you looking for, or are you ready to begin recruiting volunteers for church?
People love to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The community, their neighborhood, their church. It’s a chance to help other people and make a difference in their lives. It’s the joy of serving. Generosity of time. Giving of spirit.
But volunteer work takes work from the church, as well.
There are many ways to go about finding people who want to give their time. From church volunteer recruitment campaigns, to celebrations and church surveys.
Below we tell you how to get more church volunteers.
1. Build Relationships
Out of all the people who attend your church, how many volunteer? For some, they don't feel a deep connection to the church.
This means they often don't have a relationship with those in the church, through no fault of their own. Instead, many show up for the service and leave.
At their best, churches are meant to be a transformative force within the community. In many cases, the actual service is the least important part of going to church. The most important being building relationships.
For many, demonstrating divine love through action is the purpose of the church. That's why recruiting volunteers for your church is so important. Once you have them, make sure you invest in those volunteers as people.
Recruiting volunteers for church is easier if you don’t have ulterior motives. Don’t ask someone just to volunteer to supervise Sunday School. Instead, invest in people with goals of showing love and meeting their needs. Meeting people where they are is how you can build a relationship.
When people feel their needs are cared for, they are more likely to reciprocate. (Of course, this is only true if you work to build the relationship with no ulterior motives!)
In an ideal world, your new volunteers have received love and value from their relationship with you and the church and they're empowered and inspired to pay it forward through volunteering.
If more people felt cared for and protected by their church, they would be more passionate about representing it at volunteer events. It's a crucial way to transform both your church and your volunteer programs.
2. Demonstrate Passion
Are you passionate about the volunteer opportunities within your church? If you're looking to transform your volunteer recruitment campaign, it starts with you.
The Bible tells us it is those that volunteer and serve that are the true leaders in the kingdom of God. While this is true when it comes to theology, is it being practiced within your church?
If you serve in a position of authority within your church, are you volunteering? If not, volunteer work will put you in the midst of your community and congregation. Get your hands dirty, as the saying goes! You need to be out there recruiting volunteers for church! That’s how to get more church volunteers... people seeing the churches leader out and about!
If you're not passionate about the work your church is doing, then no one else will be either. Take care when it comes to the attitude you demonstrate!
3. Know What You Need
When someone is grieving, people tend to gather around them. They offer prayers, sympathy, flowers and casseroles. However, people also offer something else: help.
But sometimes, the offers come up short. People usually say, with the best of intention, "let me know if there's anything I can do to help."
This is for good reason. When someone is grieving, identifying specific things to do to help is challenging. But for them, during their grief, following up on that vague 'help with anything' offer may feel like too much.
When trying to help someone, make specific offers. This is also true when recruiting volunteers for church, too.
Don't put out a general call saying that 'the church could really use help.' People need to be able to look at their schedules, skills, talents and previous responsibilities.
Only then will potential volunteers know if they can actually come in to help. That's why it's crucial to identify your specific needs. These needs should come with:
- How many people you need
- What roles you have open
- The skills and experience needed to fill these roles
- What you need now and what you may need in the future
- The amount of time required
- The dates volunteer work will occur on
- How often you need recurring volunteers
Practical details are crucial if you're wondering how to get more church volunteers. If you're clear about your needs, people will often rise to the occasion and give more than you ever anticipated in the first place.
4. Don't Forecast Negativity
In leadership positions, trust is necessary. Don’t write anyone off. People know their own schedules, limits and priorities.
You should never assume whether someone can volunteer or not. Volunteer positions should be open to anyone who feels called to serve as God's kingdom is open to everyone.
It's important that your volunteer tracks follow the same open approach. That way, people can volunteer when they can. No one feels forced or coerced, which is crucial when you're undertaking activities that are intended to demonstrate God's love.
5. Leverage Word of Mouth
When recruiting volunteers for church events, it's all about building a sense of community. If you are doing good work in the community, encourage people to talk about it.
People are more likely to volunteer if they can bring a friend. In fact, many churches suffer from poor advertising.
If people don't know that your volunteer program exists, then they will never sign up for it. It takes people who are passionate about your work and are willing to talk about it.
Ask your current volunteers to spread the word. Get a church volunteer recruitment campaign going. Your volunteers may be connected to many more people than you are. This will help you build your base of volunteers and promote your church services and events.
6. Make It Easy
Churches often fit a startup model. It's full of people who are passionate about what they're doing. But there may not be settled administrative processes in place yet.
Treat volunteering like onboarding to a job. You should have your process nailed down before you receive your first applicant.
If you’ve been wondering how to get more church volunteers and someone shows up asking to help, then it's important to strike while the iron is hot. If they receive vague answers, like 'Let me check with the pastor' or 'I'll let you know the next time we have a meeting,’ they may lose interest.
Make sure you have a volunteer schedule, sign-up sheet and a list of available volunteer positions. Depending on your approach to organization and technology, you may be able to add them to a Facebook group or mailing list for volunteers.
Just make sure that you have everything laid out. That way, you don't waste precious time and resources recruiting volunteers for church, but lose them when they do inquire.
Of course, you need to incorporate steps that are mandatory. Depending on the type of services your church offers, you may need to conduct background checks. This is especially important if your volunteers work with children.
Even if you don't need background checks, make sure to vet each candidate. Don't fall into the trap of being so glad to get warm bodies that you allow just anyone to sign up.
7. Tweak Your Approach to Get Volunteers
Is your church truly doing what God has called you to do? For some people, it's important to chase their passions and let God speak over that work as it's being accomplished.
However, it's important to embrace flexibility. Iterating on your initial mission is a hallmark of humble leadership.
When you truly listen to people that are willing to volunteer, you may get ideas that you wouldn't have come up with. It's important to tailor your volunteer opportunities to the community that you have found yourself in.
For instance, what if your church is located in young, hip neighborhood? You may have many church members who are skilled in the arts, business and maybe tech.
This is an opportunity to tailor opportunities to fit your congregation's experiences, talents and skills. You may have talented writers in your midst who could volunteer..
Why not offer resume writing services to members of the community who may need them? Or, if you have talented artists, what about offering painting courses or home beautification projects for people who could use it.
8. Conduct a Survey
You need to be able to tweak your approach to fit the potential volunteers in your midst. However, you need data to be able to do that.
When recruiting volunteers for church, consider conducting a survey. This will help you get the word out about the existence of volunteer opportunities and church volunteer recruitment campaigns. But it will also help you analyze your volunteer recruitment strategy with new eyes.
Start by asking how many hours of the week people wish to volunteer. Then, ask what days of the week most people are open. Remember, weekends will likely be popular since many people have challenging work schedules.
It's also important to ask what causes and service areas your congregation is passionate about. As a leader, it's not your job to spearhead the entire mission of the church. Instead, it's important to serve as a representative of the people that God has placed in your care.
It's important to solicit opinions, too. Include a survey question about the best way to encourage church volunteers. People know the type of motivation and inspiration they need to complete a task.
Gathering more detailed data is crucial. Ask what professional skills and experiences people have that could be useful for volunteering.
Close the church survey by asking what people's goals are when volunteering. Some want to volunteer as a way of giving back to their community. Others want to volunteer as a tithe of their time.
Volunteering is an opportunity to give to the community. But it's also a great opportunity to invest in the congregation members that you already have.
9. Promote Opportunities
When recruiting volunteers for church, it's important to treat it like a marketing opportunity. Many churches suffer when it comes to promotion.
Some leaders believe that God will draw anyone to the church meant to be there. While God can do good work in people, it's up to the church to put feet and hands to the gospel message.
That's why it's important to be proactive when it comes to spreading the word. What do your marketing tactics look like? Running a church is like running a company, but with different values, visions and goals.
If your church doesn't have social media channels, it’s time! Get on social media. This is especially important if you are looking for younger volunteers who aren't quite sure where to look for information on faith.
Offer an email mailing list too. This will help appeal to people who would rather get information sent directly to their email accounts.
Do you have a church newsletter? Many people will read this newsletter as their primary source of information. You can leverage this medium to reach all generations within your congregation.
Print out your newsletter and hand it out at services. Then, email it to everyone who has signed up for your email list. This is a great way to ensure that everyone is aware of the opportunities that are available.
10. Identify Barriers
Many people want to help, but in some cases, they can't. This is especially true for people who want to give their time, but don't have the resources to give much else.
Volunteering isn't free. It costs gas money or requires a bus or light rail ticket. It also costs time, which many people could be spending at their place of employment or with their families.
Depending on the demographics of your congregation, volunteering could mean that someone needs to pay extra for daycare or a babysitter. All of these barriers are crucial reasons that keep people from volunteering in their community.
If you're recruiting volunteers for church, meet the people where they are. Offer a transportation program or conduct volunteer events at a location that is easily accessible to everyone.
11. Thank Them
Sometimes, volunteering may feel like a thankless task. It's a lot of work and pouring your heart out for a community takes a lot of physical and emotional energy.
When people feel underappreciated, they tend to stop volunteering. Their efforts matter and it's important to communicate that. When people start leaving a volunteer program, it's easy for the bad word to spread. Then, it's even harder to get new volunteers to sign up.
12. Inspire Them
The goal of church volunteer recruitment campaigns isn't to gather people to do grunt work for you. Instead, these campaigns are meant to demonstrate God's love in action while building leaders from the ground up.
After recruiting volunteers for church, eventually a volunteer will likely take over the entire program. They will have ideas, vision and passion. In some cases, they'll have better ideas than you.
When that happens, you know that you've done your job. Start by inspiring people to sign up by demonstrating the clear impact volunteer work has on the community. Then, you can watch volunteers take it from there.
13. Pray for Them
Volunteers want to feel like they are participating in something bigger than themselves. When it comes to church volunteer recruitment campaigns, that's even more true.
When in doubt, pray for volunteers. Pray for those that haven't volunteered yet, those that feel led to volunteer and those that have volunteered in the past.
Of course, this should never be leveraged as a manipulation tactic. Pray for people out of God's love, and He will bring them if He wishes.
14. Create an Elevator Speech
What's the purpose of recruiting volunteers for church? People need to invest in a mission. People don't show up for Sunday School duty just because they want to. Instead, they are looking to invest in a new generation of children and express God's love to them.
However, you need to be able to communicate that vision in thirty seconds or less. In the business world, it’s called an elevator pitch, basically meaning once you get on an elevator with someone, you have about thirty seconds to make your case. This pitch should demonstrate value and what you're asking for.
If someone asks what your volunteer program is all about, what are you going to tell them? It's important to be prepared at the moment.
15. Develop Business Cards
Even in church, time is a precious commodity. Everyone is busy and trying to juggle a complicated schedule... it’s a part of adult life. If that's the case for you, make it as easy as possible.
Volunteers fall through the cracks when they get confused. For instance, someone might be interested but they forgot your phone number or how to find the volunteer sign-up sheet.
That's an opportunity lost. Handing out business cards with pertinent information is a great way to make sure volunteers can reach out and contact you whenever they feel ready.
16. Celebrate Recruits
When recruiting volunteers for church, finding people with a strong work ethic is important. However, people need time to bond, celebrate and feel proud of their achievements.
How about hosting a potluck or celebration party for your current volunteers? This is a great way to generate publicity for your church volunteer recruitment campaigns, events and services.
It's also a good way to express appreciation for the current volunteers you already have.
17. Offer One-Time-Only Options
No one wants to commit to something and then bail. It makes people feel bad and, in some cases, it makes them look bad.
People often hold back because they don't know if they will be able to consistently commit. Life changes daily and keeping up with these changes is a lot for anyone to take in.
If that's the case, offer one-time-only volunteer opportunities. For instance, do you need volunteers for a Christmas pancake breakfast at church? Something like that is a great opportunity for potential volunteers to get their feet wet if you’re recruiting volunteers for church and they want to take a trial run.
Then, if it works out, they can sign up for more consistent responsibilities if it works for them.
18. Offer Online Volunteering
Many people have a heartfelt desire to volunteer. But it might not work with their lifestyle.
If that's the case, what about offering online opportunities? Many people have skills that would be useful to your ministry.
Sending emails, graphic design, web design and sound checks are great opportunities for people to leverage their skills. That way, they don't face transportation difficulties.
19. Try Micro-Volunteering
Everyone has a cramped schedule. Often people want to volunteer but feel like they can't.
Volunteering doesn't need to take 8 hours of your day. Instead, micro-volunteering is a chance to take bite-sized chunks of time and use them.
For instance, do you need to contact people to see if they need help or transportation? That's a quick phone call that someone can make in two minutes.
20. Ask Personally
Sometimes, it's hard not to notice people's talents. Some people are naturally good at certain things, and they take the spotlight when you're around them. This is something to celebrate!
If you see someone who is incredibly talented, ask them if they are interested in volunteering. Sometimes, the best approach is the direct one.
21. Encourage Alternative Opportunities
While recruiting volunteers for church, watch out for alternatives. Some people may not want to spend their time volunteering in a traditional way. Not everyone has the capacity to help build houses or help out with children.
Some people prefer to work behind the scenes. Others may want to help drive elderly people to services, and so forth.
22. Highlight Accomplishments
Celebrating recruits often goes beyond hosting a party or a potluck. Take the opportunity to highlight volunteers from the pulpit, too.
People love hearing their accomplishments being highlighted. It's a great way to highlight the existence of your volunteer program, too. (Which is how to get more church volunteers.)
23. Follow Up
People come and go when it comes to church services and events. However, people often leave because of life events.
It's a good idea to follow up with past volunteers. Often, if it was a good experience, they are ready and willing to come back. It's a great way to bring back people who were successful in the past.