Can we be real? Ministry is impossible without volunteers! However, recruiting and retaining volunteers are often the most challenging parts of ministry. We all know that Girl’s Ministry especially can’t exist on the shoulders of one person. We need our volunteers and we need them be invested in our ministry for the long haul.
However, we have learned that volunteers will be quick to leave if they don’t feel appreciated. They don’t just long for a pat on the back for a job well done, but they want to be seen and cared for in a meaningful way. That’s why this will not be your average list of five ways to appreciate your volunteers, but we believe each way is vital in how you show your gratitude toward your ministry leaders.
Pay attention to your volunteers! It’s easy to get into a routine and forget how much volunteers contribute. Therefore, be watchful on Sundays and Wednesdays (and throughout the week!) about what your volunteers are doing. When you hear that one of your leaders is taking some girls out to coffee on a Saturday morning just for fun, tell her that you recognize her effort and sacrifice! If you notice a leader having a tough time getting her sixth graders to pay attention, recognize that she may need you to sit in for that group time. These are such basic ideas, but your girls ministry leaders want to be seen by you. And when you do recognize them and their work, they will not only feel appreciated but loved.
It is easy to forget that how we communicate to our volunteers communicates how we feel about them. If your volunteers are emailing you and you aren’t responding to them, you communicate that they aren’t a priority. If you don’t share details about an event until the week of, you communicate that you don’t value their time. However, if you are consistently filling them in on things they should know about and in a timely manner, you communicate that their involvement is vital to your ministry.
This is the easiest way you can show appreciation to your volunteers! Just remember. Remember their names, their birthdays, their prayer requests from last week, their children’s faces, and the struggles they may be facing with their girls. Remember what matters to them. This may mean sending a text on their birthday, writing a card when they lose a loved one, high-fiving their kids when you see them, or scheduling a coffee date to work through a problem they shared with you. When you acknowledge what matters to them, you acknowledge they matter to you.
It’s easy to say, “I’ll be praying for you.” But, when is the last time you gathered your leaders together to allow them to share how they need prayer and then actually prayed for them? It is easy for any ministry leader to put their spiritual needs on the back burner as they pour into girls. However, when you take time to hear your volunteers’ hearts and needs, you are able to specifically and prayerfully pour into them so they don’t have to lead from spiritual emptiness or isolation.
Every person loves to be celebrated in some way. You could easily thank your volunteers in the church hallway as they pass by, but celebrating takes more effort and goes a long way in the heart of a volunteer. We recommend setting aside several days a year where you “Go Big” celebrating your volunteers. You could easily make a plan at the beginning of the year and calendar special events quarterly.
Fun and “Big” ideas include: providing a breakfast for them one Sunday morning, taking them out to lunch somewhere nice, inviting them over to your house for a girl’s night, or giving them a small Christmas gift. (While a pack of gum, that says “You’re Extra Special” is cheap and easy, it might not communicate the value you put on your volunteers).
I know that some of you are thinking, “But, it’s not in my budget to ‘Go Big’ for my volunteers.” As you are planning for your 2020 budget, just remember that your volunteers are the most valuable assets of your ministry. By allocating a portion of your budget toward volunteer appreciation, you communicate the high value you put on your volunteers. And guess what, volunteers will notice! If you don’t have a budget for your ministry, pray about how God wants you to use your personal resources to bless your leaders as a way of honoring Him through giving.
As you go about the rest of your week and process the things you have read, please know that we are praying God gives you a renewed heart for your volunteers. And if you are in a season where you need volunteers, we are also praying that God would bring you the right people at the right time.
Thanks for reading! Much love, Lifeway Girls.