1. How do you currently communicate your volunteer needs? Do you feel this is working well?
As you see, most of it is done personally. On the few occasions (e.g. Easter and Christmas) when we make a public appeal, the appeal is not so much about the need as it is about the opportunity to connect.
2. What has been your largest problem in recruiting volunteers?
Helping previously churched people understand that it is their job – the volunteer’s job – to recruit new volunteers, not the staff’s. We are unrelenting in this vision. Unchurched people have no problem with this, incidentally. 🙂
3. Has any certain approach worked better than another (i.e., program announcements, invitations, video, etc.)?
We do not do announcements for volunteer needs. Our announcements are limited and strategic. If it is not something that impacts the entire church we do not normally do the announcement (we don’t announce ministry meetings or limited group gatherings from the front, for example). We do announce anything that a newer guest would need to know, since they probably don’t have another point of contact. We also have our service guide – an 8.5 by 5.5 inch card – that contains 3-5 announcements. We often include some items there that we do not announce verbally (again, church-wide events).
Our single best method is empowering and envisioning our volunteers to recruit new volunteers. Nothing works like a first-person testimony that is real and authentic (one on one!).
4. What sort of time commitment do you ask of your volunteers (especially in children’s ministries, as that is a particular need of ours)?
I oversee our Children’s Director here at the Orchard. Most of our Orchard Kids volunteers serve one or two times a month. Some of our Orchard Kids small group leaders serve three or four times a month, especially if they are training apprentices.
We offer three one hour services each weekend. So it is not uncommon for one of our Orchard Kids volunteers to be scheduled to serve one or two one-hour services a month, and then also one Saturday night service a month. Of course, some choose to serve more often, because they love it.
Recruiting volunteers in children’s ministry is always a challenge – everywhere. We are still working at turning our Orchard Kids volunteers into a recruiting engine. In nearly fourteen years of pastoral ministry, I have NEVER seen a children’s ministry say “We have enough volunteers. You don’t need to serve!” We are still working on this… and probably always will be!
I hope that this information helps others who are also on the “volunteer journey”. We certainly don’t have this thing figured out – I would love to hear some of your ideas! Help us make the Orchard a better experience for our volunteers and guests!