4 Ways to Keep Your Volunteer

Good news. You have recruited a new volunteer to be part of your ministry. You have successfully trained them in their tasks. Now, you’re all done!

Well, not quite.

The third part of our series on recruiting, training, and sustaining volunteer ministers focuses on the ongoing support that is needed for anyone that is involved in ministry. Now is not the time to walk away and get a latte or not touch base with them for weeks on end.

Now is the time to continue to offer the support and motivation for them to continue to be an effective volunteer in your ministry.

As a leader, you are likely to be very action-oriented and want to move on to the next project or event and move away from the programs and people that are running smoothly. At this phase of the game, you can begin to spend more time and energy on other projects, but you can’t ignore what’s already in place.

When you are at the sustaining phase for a volunteer, there 4 questions that are worth asking about that volunteer:

1. What motivates them?
The fact of the matter is that different things motivate people. Some people like gift cards as a thank you gift. Others prefer to have recognition in front of other volunteers or the congregation. Still others would prefer to have a thank you note from you. Find out what motivates your volunteer. The simple way of doing it is asking. For instance, once person I minister with told me that what motivates and affirms him most is when I give him more tasks and challenging work to do. It shows that I trust him and his competence for ministry. That is extremely motivating for him.

2. Are they enjoying the ministry?
There are times when I notice a volunteer not having fun in the ministry. If they are not having fun, they are not likely to stay motivated. Now is a good time to sit down with them and ask them if they are enjoying their ministry. Sometimes I find that my perception is wrong. Other times, they do tell me they are not having fun. At this point, we need to make adjustments to their ministry. Why are they not having fun? Work to solve the problem so that they are in a space to have fun.

3. What training and resources do they continue to need from me?
We never really leave the training phase. It is continual. As a ministry grows, the leaders also need to continue to grow and learn. What tools do I need to give my volunteer to help them grow further? Never stop offering training.

4. Do they feel they can share with me any challenges or concerns they are dealing with?
I know that sometimes a volunteer feels like they can’t come to me to share their concerns. This is a problem and only I can fix it. If a volunteer does not feel comfortable sharing their concerns, then the concern cannot be addressed. If the concern is not addressed, then the volunteer begins to feel unmotivated for ministry. As leaders, we have to remove all obstacles that are in the way of our team doing exceptional ministry. Since the volunteer is the one that is on the ground doing the ministry, their perspective is so important and I need to learn from it. Therefore, I must always foster open communication and dialogue.

What strategies do you use to sustain your 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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