Motivate your Volunteers - part one

What motivates volunteers today? Does your church or group have too few of these important participants? Reflect for a moment on why people volunteer their time, what they gain from that involvement, and what is needed to retain their participation. Think about how you can incorporate some of the following factors into your enlistment methods and your approach to working with volunteers. You’ll find happier volunteers who will stay longer! 

  • Consider their gifts: Lead volunteers to understand their spiritual gifts. This understanding can lead to their volunteering for positions and work that will match their gifts. All too often a person is put in a service slot for which they have no ability, interest or gift! There they sit (sit is the operative word!) and it is not a successful match. While all are to lead, teach and administrate, God has gifted us to minister in areas that will glorify His work. It is the responsibility of church staff and leadership to lead volunteers to learn about their gifts and to help place them within those gifts to serve.
  • Consider their passion: Most of the time a volunteer’s gifts and his/her passion are the same. Using one’s gifts and serving with passion result in low-maintenance volunteers. If either the passion or the gifts are missing, the volunteer will require a lot of attention and supervision. High maintenance!
  • Consider their duties: Volunteers who are not given specific expectations will flounder. Volunteers appreciate it when they are told what their responsibilities will be, to whom they report, and what deadlines are involved. As church leaders you must clarify these things to ensure that your volunteers are content with their assignments. When volunteers know what they are being asked to do, they are more likely to stay and to encourage others to participate.
  • Consider their input: Do you ask for feedback from your volunteers? Remember these people have held responsible positions for corporations, managed offices, and educated others in their former careers/positions in the workplace. Individuals volunteer because they know their gifts, are passionate about the work, and feel confident in their abilities. Not to be asked to contribute to the process is an insult. It is important to give volunteers feedback too. They need to know that their work is acceptable, that goals are being reached, and that their contribution is valuable. This can be done in verbal or even written form.
  • Consider their tools: Are your volunteers equipped with tools to do the ministry you have asked them to do? It’s uncomfortable to be asked to do some task and not have the tools to do it well. Not equipping your volunteers is a sure-fire way to lose them! Volunteers want to be useful but require proper training and resources to do their jobs. Provide these and it’s almost a guarantee for happy volunteers who remain motivated.
  • Consider their models: John Maxwell has said the Number 1 motivation for volunteers is what they see. You as leaders must be the first model for service. Having live models will keep them more interested than all the training and teaching you can do.

These first six factors involved in motivating volunteers are key to maintaining the success of your efforts to involve persons in contributing to the church’s purpose and strategy. Part 2 will discuss six more factors.

For more information, contact:

Eva De La Rosa
SENT Specialist, Women's Ministries and Missions
559.229.9533 x. 256
E-mail Eva De La Rosa


Last Published: August 28, 2013 2:28 PM