How to recruit volunteers

vol.jpg I’ve been asked a ‘few’ times about how to recruit volunteers so I thought I’d throw some stuff together from my experience to see if it was of any use. The cunning bit then is that hopefully more wisdomy types will add some thoughts via the comments and we’ll arrive at something useful.
1. ASK! Vague desperate pleas read out by the vicar DO NOT WORK. “We need someone, anybody PLEASE?” is not a great pitch and beside which it gives a potential volunteer the idea that they are just being thrown at a problem rather than recruited to a ministry! Pray, think, reflect and ask specific people.
2. PRESENT VISION! People don’t respond to vague need, they respond to Vision. They also respond even more to thought-out Vision that has some practical framework, e.g “We have built relationships with a great bunch of 11-14’s and now have an opportunity to run an Youth Emmaus course with the older ones and believe you could be a real blessing to that group and help to develop this ministry!”
3. GIVE DETAILS: Remember the church has a really really bad history with volunteers for youth work i.e if you got suckered into being a leader of a group there was NO escape unless you a) died or b) moved away! So if you do ask someone, let them know the expectations and timescale!
4. DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS: Think wider than just trendy young 20’s and the newly wed couple, there are great youthwork volunteers of all ages.
5. BUILD TEAMS: No one wants to be passed a crisis, however people do enjoy joining functional envisioned teams THAT enjoy what they do. In a good team people grow and develop in their faith, that’s attractive. Teams allow you to recruit a more diverse mix of people too so greater pool to draw from.
6. OVERCOME FEAR: Remember that congregations are heavily influenced by media opinions of young people, they are often scared of them and AT the very least think “I could never talk to one of those TEENAGERS!” *quake* So ask one or two poeple to help with a one-off specific event where they encounter the young people and may be surprised to find themselves in conversation with young people. Get the young people involved in running an event for the congregation that’ll will break down some barriers.
7. OUR SIDE OF THE DEAL: What support, resourcing, training, budget can the volunteer expect? Is there demonstrated commitment from those doing the recruiting or is the volunteer just going to be left to it with no budget or framework!
There’s also a foundational stage. Have you created a place where volunteers are supported, valued and encouraged? Do the exisiting volunteers work with vision and creativity? If your support of existing volunteers is rubbish and no-one is allowed to EVER retire from a job …. then you’ve created a climate in which no-one would want to volunteer.

7 Replies to “How to recruit volunteers”

  1. Hi Ian,
    may I use this in my mailing for the Autumn? I will of course credit it appropriately. I have had several emails and phone calls already asking this very question. Do you know where the next SE DYO meeting is? thanks.
    Phil G

  2. Phil,
    No probs, use if it’s useful and I appreciate being credited, thanks 🙂
    Next DYO meet is Sept 13th but your e-mail bounced back several times, so I printed off the e-mail and POSTED it! You should get it today

  3. All fab stuff! I’d add:
    (first one kinda in your one about fear)
    a) Be able to offer a scale of commitment. Ask them to volunteer for THIS and if they can’t do all that how about this. For example ask if they will help each week but be prepared to offer a once a month deal which they might accept.
    b) work on empowering the young people as leaders when they get to 15/16. Thye can’t count as responsible adults but they bring passion and drive to a leadership team.
    c) To help with the fear factor, help the young people become part of the wider community of the church not just in their own “church”. I think the separation that we can sometimes build up is a big barrier to recruitment.

  4. Thanks for posting this article! I’ve bookmarked it as I think it’ll come in very useful with the different clubs I volunteer at.

  5. Hi, great list. I’v been thinking about #7, Our side of the deal. I think that alot of the time the volunteer is just seen as a resource that you can use without giving something back. It doesn’t have to be big things, but show that you appreciate their work. Buy pizza for the meeting and invite a good leadership lecturer.

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