Thursday, August 23, 2012

5 Essentials for Your Volunteers . . . #3 Thank and Encourage Them!

For the past couple of articles, I’ve been writing about the Top 5 Essentials for our Volunteers . . . #5 – provide resources and #4 – provide training. I said, “Whatever you do, commit to providing training for your volunteers this year because it is essential. If we want our volunteers to be successful in their ministry, we need to provide the tools they need and training is an essential tool!” Today I’m going to look at #3 – thank and encourage your volunteers!
Your church and my church have each been gifted with volunteers who faithfully serve in the various areas of our ministries. While these people certainly do not serve for our thanks, it absolutely is appropriate to take the time to thank them! I have always enjoyed the ministry of appreciation – what could possibly be more fun than taking the time to thank and encourage those who serve as volunteers in our churches? There are many ways to thank your volunteers, but the first thing to keep in mind is it is absolutely essential to begin with something which isn’t very time consuming and build from there. Once you begin any ministry of encouragement to your volunteers you want to be able to maintain and continue that ministry. If you jump in and take on more than you can keep up with you may end up discouraging your volunteers.

Keep in mind, volunteer encouragement is all about thanking and encouraging your volunteers and includes things like planning big events such as appreciation dinners and holiday open houses and smaller things like weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly surprises!  Pick and choose those ideas which you are able to commit to and keep up with then add more as you are able to continue to maintain them.  Consider the following ideas -
  • Encourage by providing little “surprises” each week, every other week or at least once a month! I’m including a few possible ideas for surprises to get you started!
  1. Purchase small post-it-notes for each volunteer and tag with, “We’re stuck on you!”
  2. Give each volunteer a pen or pencil with a tag that says, “You’ve got the ‘write’ stuff! We’re glad to have you as part of our Ministry team!”
  3. Give each teacher a banana and tag with, “Our ‘bunch’ wouldn’t be the same without you! We’re so glad you’re part of our Ministry Team!”
  4. Give each volunteer a Riesen’s Chocolate and tag with, “There are so many ‘riesens’ we are thankful you are part of our Ministry Team!”
  • Get letter stackers at your local office supply store – one for each volunteer and leave in their classrooms . These letter stackers can serve as “mailboxes” for your volunteers. Leave notes in your volunteer’s “mailboxes” and encourage parents and kids to leave notes of appreciation in their volunteer’s “mailboxes”, too. :^)
  • Encourage your volunteers by communicating regularly – I printed bi-weekly newsletters and included info on upcoming dates, trainings, scope and sequence, had a note from our pastor, noticed birthdays and anniversaries of volunteers, provided book reviews, a read through the Bible schedule and cartoons just for fun. My volunteers appreciated these as they were able to see I was serious about communicating with them!
  • Plan a volunteer appreciation dinner – you could make it very simple by asking non-volunteers in your church to provide the parts of the dinner or make it a catered event . . . just having the dinner makes your volunteers feel valued and is absolutely well worth the time, expense and effort!
  • Thank your volunteers by having them stand in a morning service, hand each one a simple white carnation and then have the senior pastor pray for them.
These are just a few ideas for thanking and encouraging your volunteers, try one, or all of them, but be sure to do something to regularly thank and encourage your volunteers! We are all busy . . . most of us are too busy. When someone volunteers to give of themselves and their time to serve in your children’s ministry, they are giving something truly precious. When you thank and encourage them you are showing you understand the value of what they offer, you sincerely appreciate what they offer and most importantly, you sincerely appreciate them! Tomorrow I’ll look at the #2 essential thing you can give your volunteers . . . a listening ear!

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