A few years ago, I was working as a sales trainer. I would train new hires into the company over a two-week orientation. I found the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson comes down to their understanding of a feature and a benefit of our product. Whatever product you are selling, that product has many great features. For example, I have an iPhone, that I love, and it has some amazing features. The many features include 4.3 inch touch screen, 16 gigs of storage, 16 mega pixel camera with a flash, finger print id, full HD, 1920 x 1080 display, The LED-backlit display…these are just a few of the many seemingly hundreds of features it possesses. These features are great, but for a person who is not technologically inclined, they would not see the value in trading in that old flip phone for a smart phone.

What makes a great salesperson is someone that first finds out what an individual needs, wants, enjoys, likes, dislikes, and uses then uses that information to tell them the benefit of a new iPhone. What goes from a great feature of the iPhone, turns into a great benefit that will meet their current need.

But we’re not talking about iPhones, are we? I’ve found many parallels to ministry recruiting. I could tell a potential new volunteer that my kid’s ministry has the best vision, the best core values, the best facility, the best flat screens, the best security system, the best playground and the best curriculum and not land them as a volunteer. If I don’t know what this potential volunteer likes, dislikes, enjoys, or maybe how he or she is gifted, how he or she is motivated, then connecting them into a new volunteer position is really a matter of chance. Without knowing our potential volunteers, we will struggle to find the right volunteers and struggle keeping the ones we have.

I know we all struggle with finding volunteers, at least most of us. We all have that class/group that we cant fill with enough volunteers. The change I’ve made is from temporarily filling a desperate need to changing my mindset about finding the right kinds of volunteers for each role. These are the kinds of volunteers that are driven, motivated and can multiply themselves. The most successful children’s ministries are the ones that have cultivated an environment that is exciting and fun for volunteers and it starts by recruiting from a position of strength.

I have made a few adjustments to my recruiting process that have lead to new levels of success. This process includes these three things:

  1. Know where you are going. People want to serve in a ministry that knows why they do what they do, and where they are going. All conversations with volunteers need to lead to your vision and direction. The vision of your ministry needs to be clear and simple. As the leader it is essential for you to constantly reminder and drive people to that vision. People can get behind a leader that has a vision and direction.
  2. Know who you are recruiting. The only way you are going to get quality volunteers is to know them. Ask the right questions. Get to know your people, parents and kids. If you are currently doing roles that don’t allow you to be present on a Sunday (programming, training, large group, small group, or anything else that keeps you busy and not in front of parents) then replace yourself with others and make yourself available. If you are present then parents and individuals will be more open to asking questions, and expressing interest. The reason you may not be able to find volunteers is because you are too busy on Sundays. Make yourself available to connect with parents and kids.
  3. Know what’s next. It may seem simple enough, but having a process for next steps will save you a ton of trouble. When someone comes to you and asks about serving, tell them what’s next? Have a place to send them? Be proactive, not passive. If you have someone that expresses interest, the best thing to do is instantly engage them with the process, meet some other volunteers and maybe even have them fill out an application right then. I have found that most of the volunteers I instantly engage stick. Potential volunteers that I ask to email me or just have them write down their info on a card often don’t go anywhere. I feel that I haven’t really given them a compelling reason come back to.

These are just a few of the tips that I have discovered have helped me make my recruiting of new volunteers easier and more efficient. What about you? What has worked for your ministry?