Can I Have A Volunteer?

by | Nov 3, 2009 | Leadership

The need for quality volunteers in any non-profit organization is a never-ending challenge. Volunteers are the “lifeblood” of any ministry organization. It’s critical that volunteers are recruited in a way that is engaging, caring, and well organized.

Defining the Role

Before you begin to recruit volunteers, it’s wise to consider the following:

  • What specific tasks need to be done?
  • Which tasks should be assigned to volunteers?
  • When, where, and how do we recruit volunteers?
  • Who recruits volunteers?
  • Who will train volunteers?
  • Who will supervise the work of volunteers?
  • How will we acknowledge the work of volunteers?

Recruiting the Right Person

Recruiting is getting the right person in the right job, with the right skills at the right time. It’s important to match the right person to the job. Building a volunteer team should be done through a coordinated recruitment process rather than by taking the first individual who comes along. The recruitment of volunteers in your organization should resemble the way you recruit paid staff.

Clarity Makes the Difference

The first step in recruiting volunteers is to define the job to be done. Once the job is defined, determine what qualifications are required to do the job. A job description is a useful tool. It lists all the qualifications needed to do the job. This step clarifies the expectations and requirements of the position. It also gives volunteers insight into the role they play in the total picture of the organization.

A volunteer job description should include —

  • Title A clear descriptive title is best. Do not underestimate the importance of the right title.
  • Purpose A statement of the overall objective for the position. Define why you need someone to do this job.
  • Responsibilities List each duty and responsibility of the job. Be as specific as possible. Make expectations clear from the very beginning.
  • Qualifications Outline the skills, knowledge, and attitudes you seek. Be as specific as possible.
  • Relationships — Clarify to whom the volunteer is accountable.
  • Time Commitment — Estimate the time the position will require. Typically volunteers work best in shifts ranging from 2 to 4 hours.

Now that you understand what the job is and what sort of person is required to do it, you need to make a list of potential candidates who may be able to do the job. Seek ABILITY over Availability. It is better to have a position vacant for a while than to fill a ministry role with the first person that comes along. This is true in staffing and in volunteer leadership roles. Capability counts!

Invite the Volunteer

People are attracted to organizations that are positive, enthusiastic, and fun. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be a volunteer!

“80% of those people not volunteering say the primary reason they didn’t volunteer was because they weren’t asked.”

However, don’t ask for HELP. People will not jump on a sinking ship. Instead, offer opportunities where people can find fulfillment in ministry. Communicate a vision and a mission and invite them to join in the ministry. Refuse to talk of needs or shortages.

Welcome and Follow-up

If the potential volunteer accepts the offer, welcome him into your group or organization. Then remember that a simple smile and “thank you” may serve to spur a volunteer to undertake another task. Volunteers want to feel like they are needed. (And let’s be honest – THEY ARE!) They just want to know that their time is valued and appreciated … and that they are helping to make a difference.

Go Get Them!

Remember, an organization is made up of people. People who volunteer have varying interests, motivations, and talents. When you can match their skills and interests to your organization’s needs, it can make for a beautiful marriage and a productive organization.