5 Warning Signs Your Volunteer Is Ready To Quit

Volunteers. We depend on them. They make our ministry happen. We need them. And some leave unexpectedly.

Or was it really unexpectedly?

I remember losing one volunteer who was excellent. She was on every ministry team I asked her to be on. She was dedicated and committed. Then, one day, she left! I was blown away. Everything seemed to be going well with her. I had plans for her take on larger leadership roles in the ministry. But, she was gone…forever. And I didn’t know why.

As I reflected on the experience, I discovered that the writing was on the wall. She was ready to leave and I just didn’t notice the signs. I was oblivious to what should have been obvious.

I don’t want you to deal with that loss if you don’t have to. Here are 5 warning signs that one of your volunteers might be ready to quit.

They consistently don’t show up at the last minute

I’m not talking about just once. Things come up and one time is not a big deal. When it happens consistently, that’s when I start to suspect something is up. Take time to reach out to the volunteer and find out what’s going on.

They don’t return phone calls or emails

Okay, some people might be bad at returning emails. However, I find that if this happens regularly, the volunteer might be avoiding me for some reason. If they are avoiding me as the ministry leader, then the likelihood of them staying as a volunteer is slim.

You don’t know what’s going on in their personal lives

I have to accept that this is often the reality for me. When I don’t take the time to know what’s going on in their personal lives, I am communicating that either I don’t care about them or that I don’t have time for them. Either way, their morale starts to wither. I’m disconnected from my volunteer, which means I have not taken the necessary time to build an authentic relationship with this person. When a volunteer does not feel a sense of connection with their ministry leader, it’s only a matter of time before they leave.

You haven’t taken the time to affirm them

When is the last time you affirmed your volunteer? Some of us do this well. Some of us don’t. All of our volunteers need affirmation. Take the time to affirm when appropriate. It lets them know that you appreciate them. If they are never praised for the work they do for your ministry, then you will eventually see them leave.

They’ve had a change of jobs

Job changes can be dramatic and require a large level of commitment on your volunteer to focus on their job. I’ve seen this numerous times. The good news about a job change is that they may leave your ministry for a short time, but will likely come back when things settle down at the new job. If your volunteer has had a job change, be up front with them. Give them the opportunity to bow out of the ministry. If you don’t, then you may start to notice some of the other warning signs that were mentioned above.

Question: What warning signs would you add to the list?

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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