I need 112.

10 in check-in/hospitality, 33 in early childhood, 46 in elementary and 23 in students… give or take a few.

No really, do you know how many you need?

I remember sitting with my staff a few years ago and asking this very same question. Everyone was frustrated. They needed more volunteers. I wanted to help, so I simply asked, “how many volunteers do you need?” I didn’t like the answer they gave me.

A bunch.

Really? Like 10-20 a bunch? 40-50 a bunch or are we talking 100+ a bunch?

No reply.

Being on the leadership team at my church allows me great opportunities. I can ask our lead pastor to cast vision for an area that will help our ministry win or simply ask for some help. However, I knew that I could not go to the leadership team and say, “listen everyone, I need your help. I need a lot of volunteers. No, I need a bunch!”

About a year ago, my lead pastor was casting vision for serving in many areas and he knew that NextGen needed a pretty big boost in our volunteer efforts. He asked me, “How many volunteers do you need?” I replied, “I need you to recruit me 100 new volunteers from you message.” He didn’t flinch and that Sunday we gathered very close to 100 new leads for NextGen.

Around that same time, I made some very specific changes in regard to volunteers. We had to know numbers. How many do we really have? Is our list of volunteers accurate or are there a bunch of inactive people from four months ago on the roster? If every room and environment had the number of volunteers truly needed to execute excellent programs – how many people is that?

We worked hard to answer these questions and that’s how I know that we need 112 volunteers right now.

Here’s how we did this practically

We created a volunteer dashboard in a google doc that has every position available to be filled. If we need five people in a room for one specific service, there will be five rows for that room at that service. Just before I started writing this post, I sorted this dashboard by “first name.” There were 112 rows across all our ministries that didn’t have names. We need 112 more volunteers.

Every week, names are being added and taken off of this dashboard. Some volunteers quit. Some step off for a time to rest. New volunteers come onboard. The document is always changing. However, once a month (at the end of every month), every staff person audits their part of the dashboard. They look for people who are on their dashboard who aren’t serving anymore. They look for new volunteers who recently started serving, but didn’t make it onto the dashboard yet. They even look at the number of rows dedicated to rooms to ensure the number is right. It’s possible that a room that normally requires five volunteers only needs four because we’ve got three really great adults and a very dependable teenager. Once the audit is completed, numbers are totaled and recorded. I have have a pretty accurate number at any moment, but I know that at the end of the month, I’ll know exactly where I stand.

Here’s how this helps

  • Everyone on my team recruits volunteers. We all make phone calls and send emails. We all meet with potential leads for breakfast or coffee. Because we all live in the dashboard on a daily basis, we all can quickly identify our needs. My Elementary Director can spend 30 minutes on the phone with a great lead she’s been chasing down for older elementary and come to realize that they’d be a better fit for Middle School. She could take a quick look at the Middle School dashboard to know exactly where this volunteer could serve.
  • It’s far easier to get to where you’re headed if you know where you are right now. That’s sounds like a cliche leaders quote, but it isn’t. Everyone on my team knows exactly how many more volunteers they need to completely fill their environments. They know how many they need to recruit each month in order to hit their goals. When you have this kind of knowledge, it’s hard no to stay focused on your goals.
  • I really feel that this honors your manager. Numbers don’t communicate everything, but your knowing exactly how close you are to full capacity communicates so much to your lead pastor.

What about you? How do you know exactly how many volunteer you do and do not yet have?