Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Month of Love - Show Love - Sincerely Appreciate Volunteers

When it comes to children's ministry there is no shortage of things for us to do. Iplt often seems like we are always busy, so this post today could be looked at as just another thing to add to the already long list of things you already do. Or it could be looked at as something "optional". However; it is something which is essential; something we really need to plan into our schedules. What is it? Volunteer appreciation.

Why should you plan volunteer appreciation into your schedule? Look at the following reasons . . . 
  • It is the right thing to do. Volunteers give of themselves and their time; many of them on a weekly schedule. They have planned into their schedules to serve as volunteers in your children's ministry; and you really do need them. It is the right thing to do to regularly and sincerely express your appreciation to your volunteers.
  • Sincerely and regularly appreciating your volunteers can help you keep the volunteers you have and bring new volunteers to your ministry. If your volunteers know how much you truly appreciate them; how thankful you sincerely are for them, they are less likely to quit. As others see how you appreciate your volunteers, they will often decide to get involved in this area of ministry where volunteers are treasured and appreciated. Sincerely and regularly expressing your appreciation to your volunteers can help with recruiting!
  • It can help you connect with your volunteers. As you regularly and sincerely thank your volunteers, you will get to know them; and they will get to know you and this will only help to connect you in greater and deeper ways with your volunteers.
  • It is a lot of fun! Not only coming up with fun and creative ways to say thank you, but watching your volunteers smile and experience being appreciated; what could possibly be more fun?! With sites like Pinterest it is so easy to find fun, unique and creative ways to say, "thank you" to your volunteers and doing so is a lot of fun!
I always liked thanking my volunteers at least once a month, so before you think that is just so much and there is no way you will be able to do this, do the following . . . 
  • Plan. Set aside a day where you will focus on planning your volunteer appreciation for the year. Pick ideas which fit with the month - time of year. For example; for September a back-to-school thank-you can be a lot of fun! Give apples for the teachers with a tag which thanks them for being part of your children's ministry team. In October give them a piece of candy with a tag which says they are such a sweet "treat". November is a great time to say "thank-you" with a hand-written note. December is easy - give your volunteers a simple ornament; I've given my volunteers applesauce and cinnamon ornaments in the past as they are easy to make and smell wonderful! January is a great time of year to give your volunteers a Hot Cocoa packet and cookie (ask non-volunteers in your church to bake the cookies for you) and February is the month to give your volunteers heart-shaped candy with a tag which talks about how they are the "heart" of your ministry! March is a fun month to give your volunteers a seed package and a tag which talks about how they are planting seeds in the children in their classes and April is another excellent time to once again write a personal note to your volunteers. May is the one month I like to do something "big" and plan a dinner or dessert for my volunteers. This may sound difficult, but it isn't. Ask non-volunteers in your church to bring the food - make it a "pot-faith" and be sure to provide additional food so you have enough for everyone. Invite the entire church and involve everyone in thanking those who served in your children's ministry the past year. The summer is a fun time to give your regular volunteers a break and so you can give summer substitutes lifesaver candy each week to thank them for being a "life saver" and serving in your summer ministry. These are just some simple ideas for how you can plan to regularly express your appreciation to your volunteers.
  • Pick something which works for you - a schedule you can stick with. Once you start regularly expressing your thanks to your volunteers, do not stop. If doing something every month to begin is too much, choose to do something every other month or at least once a quarter. Pick a schedule which works for you which you can stick with.
  • Involve others. Look for people who are not currently serving and involve them in your ministry of appreciation to your volunteers. Have them brainstorm with you to plan what you will do and how often you will do it. Allow them to gather supplies and put things together. Involve others!
Jesus spoke of His love and He showed it. When it comes to your volunteers, follow His example and not only speak of your appreciation for them, but also show it; regularly and sincerely!

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