How Do You Engage Volunteers in Your Ministry?

Published on: February 16, 2015

Views: 1859

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this pageEmail this to someone

A good place to begin is to reflect on your own experiences. If you have ever volunteered for short-term projects or for long-term assignments, your own experiences will tell you what you liked and didn’t like. When you treat the volunteers in your ministry how you like to be treated, you’ve built a solid foundation for creating a marvelous team of engaged volunteers to support your ministry.

As the volunteer coordinators for the past seven annual Unity People’s Conventions, here are 10 success tips we have learned about engaging volunteers:

1.  See the Big Picture—Be clear about the volunteer positions that need to be filled.

2.  Clarify What You Desire—Develop clear, specific, written job descriptions that provide a vivid picture of the volunteer positions.

3.  Ask for What You Desire—Create a recruitment form that gives people in your congregation the opportunity to provide their volunteering priorities, availabilities and contact information.

4.  Designate a Volunteer Coordinator—Assign a ministry staff member or volunteer to receive the recruitment forms and connect with your potential volunteers. This personal connection will help assure that talents, passions and availability align with volunteer job requirements.

5.  Communicate Quickly and Often—Timely, loving communication is essential throughout the entire process. Quickly pass the forms on to the appropriate department leader(s) so that they can match the volunteer candidate’s priorities with the jobs available. Then communicate via phone or email within one week and extend an invitation to attend training. Your timeliness lets volunteer candidates know you care and appreciate them.

6.  Provide Training—Facilitate a general training for all new volunteers, and let department leaders train the details to build your volunteers’ courage, confidence and competence.

7.  Create an Agreement—Identify in writing your desires and expectations of your volunteers.

8.  Monitor Progress—The volunteer coordinator and department leader(s) should oversee how the volunteer teams are being and functioning; make adjustments where necessary.

9.  Celebrate—Share your appreciation during the entire process (e.g., verbal acknowledgment, badge/ribbon of honor, etc.). Reward volunteers with gifts, an appreciation breakfast, thank-you letters or cards, etc.

10.  Systematize—Be well-organized and follow systematic procedures.

Remember how you like to be treated as a volunteer so you can effectively engage your congregants in supporting their community. You and your spiritual community will be blessed and richer for the experience.

Other Volunteer Resources

Lyn Madaghiele
Ray Madaghiele

Has This Post Helped You Grow?

"Advancing the movement of spiritual awakening and transformation through Unity, a positive path for spiritual living."

  • Elizabeth Mora

    Thanks for the article. I’m going to share it with my Volunteer Coordinator!

    • Joanna Carrell

      So glad it was helpful to you! Thanks for sharing!

    • Joanna Carrell

      So glad it was helpful to you! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ray Madaghiele

      Hi, Elizabeth. Lyn and I are happy that you found this article valuable. Many blessings, Ray

  • John Harris

    I appreciate your insights and suggestions, especially the suggestion to create clear job descriptions for the positions. Might I also suggest that ministries also consider an abbreviated version of the descriptions. In my own experience, my decision to NOT volunteer for a suitable position was a result of either not knowing what the position required, OR feeling that the position was too complex to grasp and execute. Distill the job description down to a simple and easily consumable format that will assist your potential volunteer in their decision making process. Leave the complete and complex version for the training once they are on-board. Indeed having a solid understanding of expectations leads to success, but they must be willing to “buy” the position first. The take-away: Make it easy to say yes when the position is a good fit – too complex to grasp and they’ll just move on.

    Perhaps I missed this in the spirit of your list, but I feel it critical to volunteer success: The ministry might consider a view that volunteerism is not about what the volunteer can do for the ministry, it’s about what the volunteer will experience and receive by being in service. The article reads to me to be more about the former than the latter. Celebration of successes is important but it’s not enough. Ensure that your volunteer program includes processes that routinely check-in with your team members, not just the leaders, to see that individual needs and expectations are being met, both physically and spiritually. Always seek ways to improve the volunteer experience and the volunteer will exceed the ministries expectations. Remember, life is from the inside out. Nurture the volunteer and the volunteer will gladly exceed the demands of the position. Leadership over management.


    • Ray Madaghiele

      Thank you for your insights, John.

      Lyn and I agree that there is so much more beyond the allotted space that we could have shared about volunteering.

      Yes,it is good to simplify the job description as much as possible while at the same time letting the person know the desires and expectations of the position. Some positions are more involved and complex then others so Lyn and I do our best to make sure our volunteer angels know what the’re signing up for so there are no surprises. We have found it helps to reduce frustration and overwhelm.

      And we agree wholeheartedly that volunteering feeds our souls. Tithing of time, talents and treasure is a life-enhancing spiritual principle that serves everyone involved…God expressing through each of us.

      Thank you again for your wisdom,

      Many blessings,


  • Kristen Preud’homme

    Thanks John for adding your insights. You’ve made some great points to include.

  • Marge Brown

    Enjoyed your article. Thank you! Each time we start a new class I ask people to introduce themselves to one another and say where they volunteer in the church.

    • Elizabeth Mora

      Love that idea! Going to use that.