Volunteer Contracts: A Must-Have Ministry Tool

When I first moved into my home, the house was in need of an interior paint job. The walls were covered in fingerprints, dirty hand marks, and normal wear and tear. My wife and I decided that we would paint the entire interior of the house, including closets and bathrooms, before we moved anything in. That way, the house was empty and we wouldn’t have to move or cover any furniture.

I hired a team of painters to do the job. I had made the expectations very clear. We weren’t ready to commit to colors, so we just stuck with white paint on most walls. We wanted every wall and ceiling painted. They quoted us a price.

I then asked for a contract.

Contract?

The head painter looked at me a little befuddled that I wanted a contract. But, he assured me that he would get me a contract.

The paint job started and he never got me a contract. I should have pressed more for the contract, but the fact is I didn’t.

In the end, the paint job looked great. They got it done in the amount of time they said they would and stayed within the quoted amount.

As I inspected the job, I quickly noticed that the bathroom and closets were not painted. I asked the head painter why and he said that it was never in the plan to paint those rooms.

I was shocked. I had made it very clear what I wanted. Yet, with no contract, the job was still done incorrectly.

The same holds true for volunteers. I can be really clear about my expectations of them, yet, sometimes, the volunteer does not meet the expectations that were laid out.

Why? Because I never wrote down the expectations in the form of a contract.

Some people I know call it a volunteer covenant, but the purpose is still the same.

I have a lot of well meaning volunteers and they do a great job! I am thankful for each and every one of them. However, there are times that some expectations are not met. Most of the time, they are not met because, although I was clear with them verbally, my volunteer did not have a written form of the expectations to refer back to as they began their work.

Needless to say, some of the expectations were lost.

A volunteer contract benefits the ministry leader (you) and the volunteer well.

  • You get a written agreement that your volunteer understands the expectations that you have set forth.
  • Your volunteer has the expectations clearly spelled out for them and they are more likely to succeed.

Create a simple contract for your volunteer that outlines the expectations and time commitments. Once that is done and you both agree to them, sign it, date it, and give a copy to the volunteer. Here is a sample PDF version of a contract for your volunteers.

Question: Do you use volunteer contracts or covenants? How have they been beneficial for your ministry?

 

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.


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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