Recruiting is the never-ending part of our ministry jobs. To a certain degree, ministry is a revolving door. To maintain or grow your ministry, you have to recruit more people than those who are stepping out. Before just going on a recruiting spree, there really are several things we should do before we recruit. Hopefully these ideas will help you recruit more strategically and stick better volunteers.

  1. Know what volunteers you need. Last year I wrote a post about how many volunteers you need. Knowing how many of each kind of volunteer is very important. Visually displaying this in your office is an excellent reminder. When everyone knows how many of each type of volunteer is needed, they’re more likely to connect people to these roles because it is on their mind. Think New Year Resolutions. People who write them down are more likely to make them happen. People who put them in a place that they can see are even more successful.
  2. Know what your volunteers are supposed to do. Every volunteer needs a job description. We desperately want our volunteers to take their jobs seriously. We want them to care. Job descriptions show our volunteers that we believe their role is important. A lack of clarity around what is expected can frustrate great volunteers. Know what you want every volunteer to do and write it down.
  3. Create volunteer roles that are clear and essential. For the longest time, I advertised that I wanted/needed volunteers who could do social media/writing. I typically write an email to parents every week. I want to write an email to volunteers every week. Getting ahead of social media posts is time consuming. I realized that I would love to have volunteers help with writing and social media. After we found some people who were interested, we realized that we weren’t ready for them. We didn’t really have a system of passing content to a volunteer who could write content or create posts. These volunteers would get frustrated and we’d get frustrated that we were making them frustrated. Yes, we needed these volunteers, but we needed more time to make it a good and helpful experience. It’s better to focus on basic roles and recruit for less.
  4. Recruit for what you can maintain. Too often we have potential volunteers say that they would like to do X for us as a volunteer. Sometimes X isn’t really necessary. Sometimes X is really awesome. Either of these situations creates a dilemma. There are really talented volunteers who have an agenda and just letting them do what they want to do doesn’t really help anyone. The volunteer who can do the unnecessary role won’t feel supported because it’s not a position you really need. The volunteer who can provide the really awesome thing is great, but if you can’t easily replace them once they move on, then you let everyone down when this new ministry comes to an end. Know what you can maintain and recruit for those roles.
  5. Have a process. When someone raises their hand to volunteer, what happens next? Who is in charge of what happens next? How do you follow up with the people who raised their hand, but didn’t do what happens next? The only thing worse than waiting 5 weeks to be “processed” is waiting forever because the card you filled out is misplaced in someone’s backpack. Have a system and follow it

Obviously you’re not going to stop recruiting before getting these things in place. However, consider setting a deadline on when you’ll address each one so that you’ll have your ducks in a row when new volunteers come your way!