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Four Steps to Motivate and Maximize Volunteers

Volunteers make your ministry work.

That's why it's vital to understand the best practices for recruiting, training and utilizing your volunteers. It's equally important to match volunteers with opportunities that fit their skills and availability. Consider these four tips when assigning volunteers to work in your ministry.

  1. Match Them Up with a Task
    Approach your volunteer placement similarly to the way that you hire employees. Look for individuals who have the skills and passion to perform the tasks they are volunteering for. Take a cue from the greater nonprofit world and offer informational meetings, skills testing and training. This will help your church members learn what skills they have and how they can be used to serve your congregation.

  2. Screen Them Appropriately
    Choose a reputable firm to conduct background screening on your volunteers. The screening should cover the entire United States and be broad enough to pick up matches that are close, but not exact (for instance, a similarly spelled name or a Social Security number that is one number off). The screening should include federal, state and county court records. The risk management experts at Brotherhood Mutual offer this advice for choosing the right background screening company. In addition to background screening, ask for references who are not friends or family and follow up, asking the references to share their experiences in working with the applicant.

  3. Train Them to Do Right
    Invest in your volunteers by helping them learn details about the work they'll do, the people they'll serve and how the ministry fits within the overall mission of your church. Volunteers also need to learn what not to do and how to react in an emergency. Ensure that ongoing volunteer training is part of your plan. Establishing a training program also lends credibility to your ministry and assures that your volunteer workers are all working toward a common goal.

  4. Show Your Appreciation
    Most volunteers aren't looking for recognition; however, a simple "thank you" will make them feel appreciated and encourage them to continue serving. Other tangible expressions of your appreciation, like a special social gathering, show your volunteers — and your entire congregation — how much you truly appreciate their efforts.

GuideStone's Property & Casualty Safety Toolkit contains a multitude of resources to help you maximize your volunteers.