The Transformative Power of Appreciation
Secret? No! Volunteers Need Appreciation
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 learned—seven 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.