What tactics do you believe work for recruiting volunteers? Why do you believe it? Does it actually work for you?
Every ministry leader I know has their own particular method for recruiting volunteers. Some do a great job and others struggle. I have heard leaders share ideas that are totally awesome, and I hear others that make me think to myself, “Does that actually work?”
Margie Morris, author of Volunteer Ministries: New Strategies for Today’s Church, shares 5 commonly held myths about recruiting volunteers. These myths are particularly insightful.
1. If you need someone to do a job, ask the busiest person you know.
I have to admit that this sometimes works. Other times, I am often caught off guard when they don’t follow through on a specific task. Many times, I find the busy people to be very organized. That is one of the reasons they are busy and have been successful in their professional and personal lives.
But how stretched thin are they?
Busy people just can’t do a great job on every project they are given. If they have to dedicate more time to a certain project at work or a task at home, then it is often the ministry task that stays undone.
2. Only paid staff need a job description.
That is simply not true. Every person I know likes clarity about what they are being asked to do. A job description is essential for any ministry position. Make it a priority to create a short one-page job description for any volunteer you bring on board. This helps the volunteer know what is expected of them.
3. If a parent’s children are involved, the parent should be expected to help.
On the surface, that sounds good. The concern is that if you force anyone to volunteer, the likelihood of this person being a poor volunteer is high. Parents should be expected to support the ministry in some way, but not volunteer on a regular basis. Unless, of course, they want to volunteer.
4. Ask your friends to help.
I love volunteering with my friends. In fact, I have made many friends through my volunteer activities. But having friends as my volunteers bring a level of complexity to the situation. If they perform poorly and I have to confront them, our friendship could be hurt. If they don’t like a decision I made in the ministry, then our friendship could be rocked by it. If friends are invited to volunteer, it is important that clear boundaries are set between the ministry hat I wear and the “friend” hat I wear.
5. Tell peoples there’s nothing to the job and it really won’t take much time.
That devalues the role. A person volunteers because they want to make a meaningful impact in the ministry. If it’s not a big deal, then why would a volunteer be excited about that? Plus, if it’s that easy, just do it yourself!
I have absolutely fallen for every one of these myths. Some have caused conflict in my ministry. Others have caused perspective volunteers to walk away. If you and I understand and embrace these myths as myth, we will be better able to recruit volunteers into our ministry.
Question: Which of these myths have you fallen for? Are there others?