The past couple of weeks the ministry I work for at Saddleback Church has lost a couple of really good volunteers. I was sorry to see them go and it will be a loss to our ministry. I read and then re-read their e-mails about why they were leaving and it made me wonder if as a staff person I could have done more to keep these folks as volunteers. Here’s what I came up with:
- Burn out. This one is huge. One of our volunteers just simply burned out. Between his full-time job and volunteering in a couple of ministries on our campus he simply burned out. Everyone needs to take a break and step back and rest for a while. It not only gives you a fresh prospective, it greatly reduces the risk of burn out.
- Not feeling like you’re making a difference. I don’t care what your ministry is; volunteers will not hang around long if they don’t feel like what they are doing is make a difference for the Kingdom. Do your best to constantly point out the good they are doing.
- Not growing. Find a way to elevate your volunteers either in a volunteer leader role or as a trainer to new volunteers. No one wants to stay at the same entry-level position they came in at in a career. It’s the same for volunteers.
- Sometimes even the best volunteers don’t really have a heart for your ministry. They thought they did and they did the best job they could but at the end of the day, your ministry was just not their cup of tea. This is actually a good reason to leave a ministry where you are serving. You need to be where God has given you the heart and talents.
- Use your older volunteers to mentor your younger volunteers. Every Timothy needs a Paul, every Paul needs a Timothy. This is a way for you to help your seasoned volunteers feel more useful if they are mentoring others, not only in your ministry but in their life. I am a huge proponent of mentoring!
- Find a way to thank and reward your volunteers. It can be as simple as a five dollar Starbucks gift card. Everyone wants to know that people appreciate what they do. Take them to lunch or meet them for coffee. Just do something to let them know you are thankful for them.
- Make sure your volunteers are getting fed. I don’t mean food I mean that they are reguarly attending weekly services, are in a small group and are having daily quiet times to keep close to God.
We’d love to hear your ideas on helping volunteers to stay strong and motivated!