The Transformative Power of Appreciation

Secret? No! Volunteers Need Appreciation

by Andrew VanDerLinden/ October 5, 2016

Early in my ministry I reached a point where I was ready to give up. The ministry was growing, new kids were coming, and attendance was up week after week. What a horrible problem, right? The problem was, as kids’ attendance increased, the number of volunteers decreased just as fast.

When you’re adding kids and losing leaders, this is a recipe for disaster. I realized something needed to change. I was beginning to doubt my abilities.  Worse yet, I started to doubt my calling. Maybe I was not cut out for ministry, I thought.

My problem was, I was so focused on adding new volunteers that I didn’t give much thought to the ones who were already committed, already trained, and already serving in the trenches.  

I was missing what I know now is the most important piece to team building: volunteer appreciation.  

Here are some valuable lessons I learnedseven tips for volunteer appreciation:

Honor your volunteers.

  • Make them feel special, and thank them often for serving.
  • Go out of your way to greet them. Thank them every time they serve.
  • Know about their lives, and engage them about the things that matter to them.
  • Speak highly of them to the leadership above you.
  • Brag about them in front of their peers and family.

Invest in your volunteers.

  • Look for ways to make their jobs easier.
  • Look for opportunities to bless them personally.
  • Call them on their birthday.
  • Comment on their new hairdo.
  • Spend time with them outside of church.

Catch them doing right, and recognize them for it.

  • Write your volunteers hand-written notes. Let them know you are praying for them and you value their contribution.
  • Call and text your volunteers—not to ask for something, just to say thank you.
  • Honor your volunteers on social media.
  • Recognize them publicly.

Always assume the best.

  • Defend your volunteers at all costs. If you hear someone complaining about something one of your volunteers did, rise to their defense. Create a culture of always having their backs.

Require them to take time off.

  • Create a culture that allows volunteers to take vacation and time off.
  • Make sure your volunteers attend church services.  

Invest in their entire family.

  • If they have kids, make them feel special.
  • If they are married, ensure their spouse knows how awesome they are.

Hold volunteer appreciation events.

  • Hold an annual volunteer banquet.
  • Create events just for the sake of fun.
  • Invite your volunteers to your home, out to dinner, or to coffee just to say thank you—no agenda other than appreciation.

By creating a culture of appreciation, you will transform your entire ministry. Set a goal to have your department become known for how you appreciate volunteers. If you do, you will never have a shortage of leaders.