Volunteers are the life blood of any healthy church. Now that vaccines are available for COVID-19, people are beginning to re-enter their churches. Taking the time to recognize your volunteers is important if you want to retain and recruit new ones. Here are some tips that you can use during and after the time your volunteers serve:
1. Share the Bigger Picture
One way to thank volunteers is to give them perspective about what they're doing. Sometimes volunteers are given mundane tasks or aren't sure how their contributions apply to the organization's mission. No matter what they're doing, let your volunteer know the larger context — not just what they’re doing, but why they’re doing it. This shows you respect them and appreciate their hardwork.
2. Provide Food for Your Volunteers
As starving college students can attest to, a study session with food garners more attendees and higher levels of productivity. The same idea applies to volunteers. Be sure to provide food for them as they work to help raise spirits. It keeps them energized and shows that you care. It really makes a difference for many people.
3. Check-In with Your Volunteers
Be sure to check in with your volunteers regularly, especially if your volunteers are located in some back room or area where people don’t usually go. If they're looking tired, give them a break. If they're looking bored, offer to give them a different task. Communication is vital! Let them know you care about their happiness while they're serving the church.
4. Feature Volunteer Stories on Your Blog/Website
Take time to interact with your volunteers. Don't only thank them for their work, get to know them personally. One way to do this would be to feature one volunteer a month on your blog or website. Take fifteen minutes out of your schedule to casually interview them. Both you and the volunteer are winners here — the volunteer gets to tell their story and you get feedback as well as some great material that you can use for volunteer recruitment.
5. Give Your Volunteers Awards
Are there any volunteers who have gone above and beyond? Nominate them for awards such as “Volunteer of the Year.” You can even get creative and have multiple categories, such as “Most Inspirational,” “Most Enthusiastic,” etc.
6. Give Your Volunteers Small Tokens of Gratitude
Who doesn't like gifts? Give volunteers a thank you gift, even something as small as a Starbucks gift card. Reach out to stores in your community — you never know what you can get for free or at a discount that you can use as a resource to thank your volunteers.
7. Send Your Volunteers A Simple, Handwritten Thank You Card
Sometimes the best way to show appreciation for your volunteers is the old fashioned way — sending them a thank you card. In the age of email and social media, a handwritten letter is a novelty. Bonus points for personalizing the message, such as thanking them for a specific task they did during their time volunteering.
BONUS: 8. Provide Resources
Helping volunteers get better at what they do will help them feel even better about what they are doing for their church. Sending them to conferences or providing helpful material will make a big difference in their morale and improve the areas they serve in.
There's no question that volunteering helps improve the lives of others. But how important is volunteering to the volunteer? Simply put, acts of good can improve their lives too. Studies have shown that altruism is good for the health but we must never take for granted our volunteers. See if you can add to this list of ways your can appreciate your volunteers.
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