Who are the best volunteers?

Lately, I’ve been speaking with parish leaders and pastors about the natural ebb and flow of volunteer involvement in their parish. Having the chance to work on the Diocesan level in the Catholic Church, I get the opportunity to work with over 50 churches in their leadership development. Each church has it’s own unique struggles with volunteer involvement.

Some churches have a ton of volunteers. Others struggle. It all comes down to the demographics of the community in which they are situated.

Some communities have very few young people and work with mostly seniors. Still, other communities are so expensive to live in that young adults are not able to move back to their home church after college because they simply cannot afford to live there. Others are hip and trendy communities who have many young adults. And others are bedroom communities or have many immigrant families with lots of families with children. All these different communities garner different age groups of volunteers.

The community your church is in determines what age group of volunteers you tend to get. You and I have to adapt to our demographics and invite volunteers to help in ways that work for their lives.

So, which age group makes the best volunteers?

When you think about the ages of your volunteers, from high school students to retired senior citizens, which make the best volunteers?

When I first started my ministry career, I thought that the best volunteers were young adults. Coming from a youth ministry world, that makes sense to think. But as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve discovered that each age group of volunteers bring their own gifts and strengths. They each add value to my ministry in tremendous ways.

It’s really a trick question. No age group makes the best volunteers. It’s a matter of knowing how to best utilize your volunteer given the phase of life they are in.

Here are the age groups that we are going to address in this series of blog posts:

  • Teenagers
  • College Young Adults
  • Young Single Professionals
  • Young Married Couples
  • Married with Young Children
  • Married with Older Children
  • Empty Nesters
  • Retired

The fact is that there tends to be a U-shape of volunteer involvement. In the chart below, the horizontal line is the age of potential volunteers. The vertical line is how likely they are to volunteer for your ministry, with 5 being very likely and 0 being not likely at all.

Over the course of the next few weeks, this series will look at the major age groups of volunteers, provide strategies for utilizing them effectively given their life situation, understanding why they do or do not volunteer, and how to get them to volunteer.

Looking forward to delving into these age groups in more detail with you.

Question: In your ministry today, which age group best represents the majority of 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.


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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