4 Simple Strategies to Recruit Volunteers

Continuing our series on recruiting, training, and sustaining volunteers, this week I want to share with you some simple recruiting strategies that have worked really well for me.

1. Start with the vision of the ministry.

Nothing motivates people more than being part of a vision that is exciting. When I share my passion and excitement about the vision for ministry, the “why” of the ministry, volunteers are much more willing to serve. Recently, I started a new podcast for our youth ministry office that would focus on training volunteers. I was trying to recruit a team of “personalities” to help bring the show alive. One of the people I invited was my friend, Lindsey. I shared with her why we were doing the podcast and why I thought it would help churches. Lindsey told me that the main reason she said yes to joining the podcast team was that she was excited about how innovative we were trying to be in our ministry. She was excited about the vision of what we were doing.

2. One-page job descriptions.

Last week, Mark Alves commented on my blog and described how important job descriptions can be when recruiting volunteers. I couldn’t agree more. The clarity that job descriptions provide make it easier for volunteers to say yes, because the ambiguity of what they are being asked to do is limited. Keep the format simple:

  • Title of position
  • Key responsibilities
  • Qualities needed
  • Term of commitment
  • Benefits of the position

3. Allow others to recruit for me.

If I’m leading my ministry well and other volunteers are enthusiastic about what we are doing, then their energy serves as an awesome recruitment tool. Actions speak louder than words, and when the actions of your team express excitement and commitment to the ministry at hand, others want to get involved.

4. Let prospective volunteers check out the ministry.

Before they say yes, allow them to see the ministry in action. It’s one thing to talk about the ministry position. It’s a whole other thing to see the ministry in action. Let them visit and watch, meet the other volunteers, and have them participate in some way. Not only does this allow them to see if the ministry is a right fit, it allows you to see if they are a right fit as well.

Here are some strategies that I stopped using a while ago. Why? Because they don’t work!

  • Bulletin articles and pulpit announcements: I always think they are desperate when they announce volunteer positions in church. I don’t want to volunteer for a desperate ministry. Plus, even as a church guy, I don’t read the bulletin. If I don’t read it, the likelihood of others not reading the bulletin is high.
  • Guilt: I’m always surprised how guilty some ministry leaders make me feel when they ask me to help. It makes me want to volunteer less, not more. Guilt doesn’t work.
  • Email invitations: Emails are too easy to ignore and doesn’t have a personal touch. I try to invite while meeting people face to face. Second best option is a phone call.

What strategies do you use to successfully recruit volunteers?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.

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