There has been a lot of conversation since Covid about the challenges of recruiting volunteers. I've written a few posts on it, but my favorite one was Seven Steps To Deal With The Stress of Volunteer Management from last July. It outlines the process for everything from recruiting to caring for volunteers.
This one is much narrower in scope. In fact, I'd like to zero in on the first month or two after a volunteer is placed by looking at 3 common problems with new volunteers and how to solve them. Here are the problems followed by a recommended solution:
1. The serving team is already scheduled for months out.
Volunteer scheduling software is an amazing tool. It gives staff and volunteers the ability to create a schedule for weeks, even months at a time. Then it sends out reminders and facilitates communication if subs are needed or schedules are changed.
When new volunteers are recruited, trained, and placed on the team; they want to start serving right away. In fact, they need to. If the schedule for that team is set far into the future it can create a problem for you as the leader of the volunteer team. You need to revise the schedule.
Our team spent some time late last year analyzing this problem and then developing a very straightforward solution to be able to apend a volunteer schedule. If you are a Churchteams client, here is the Knowledge Base Article on how to do that.
2. It seems like some new volunteers are not committed.
Objective data that demonstrates a lack of consistency is always better than a gut feeling that someone is or isn't committed. People have different personalities. There are some you would never miss, but there are others who somehow sneak in and you may not notice them.
This is why you need to develop a system to consistently check volunteers in. We recommend using our All Check solution so that volunteers can check-in with other family members.
If they don't have other family members checking in, they still use the same check-in process that everyone else does. This gives the church the option not to create a separate check-in system for volunteers.
Once you've developed an effective system for capturing attendance, we recommend creating and automating reports that notify leaders of volunteers who may have missed 3 or more times in a row.
3. We want to do a better job of caring for new volunteers.
One of the most important times for effective mentoring is when someone starts something new. If you, as a leader, want to do a better job helping new volunteers succeed, develop a system to make sure you call, text, or get with them each of the first few times they serve.
This will demonstrate you care way more effectively than just telling them that you care during a training or rally time. It gives them an opportunity to clarify anything they need to know as well as to share stories. It gives you a time to encourage them and spot potential trouble spots.
The best way to develop a caring system like this is to use the Notes feature in your software. When you schedule someone the first time, jump over to their profile and make a note, assigning it to yourself to follow up with them on the day of their first serving time.
Then, let the system prompt you to call or text your volunteer. When it does, add a follow up note summarizing the conversation with questions for next time, and assign it to yourself again. Do this for as long as you need to.
Using the Notes feature in this way takes the guesswork out of caring for new volunteers. It empowers you to lead with excellence without having to worry about details.
If your church is facing challenges recruiting, training, scheduling, and caring for volunteers; it is doubly important that you care for your new ones well. Summer is a great time to evaluate ministry systems in order to improve them in preparation for your fall ministry launch. Is your system for caring for new volunteers where you would like it to be?