Recruiting Volunteers

Our ministry leaders talk frequently about recruiting and involving volunteers. That we won’t be able to accomplish our mission unless we include volunteers in our efforts.

But for many of us we don’t see how recruiting, involving and managing volunteers actually helps us in our ministry. It is easier to do the ministry myself. Now the notable exception here is Cru High School. They have more volunteers than staff.

Last year, our Student LINC team read an intriguing book, The New Breed: Understanding & Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer, by Jonathan McKee and Thomas W. McKee. We found it to be very helpful and practical. From time to time, I will talk about working with volunteers and will likely refer to it.

In today’s tip, I want to pass on what the father and son authors refer to in Chapter 3 as the “Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers”.

  1. Expect announcements to get volunteers.
  2. Go it alone.
  3. Recruit only volunteers who make long-term commitments.
  4. Assume that “No” means “Never”.
  5. Recruit anybody.
  6. Ask busy people to do busy work.
  7. Hire professionals who know nothing about volunteer management.

Not all of these pertain to our situation. But as the McKees unpacked these, they offered suggestions of what will work, concluding with seven skills we would need to effectively recruit volunteers.

  1. Ask personally rather than rely on announcements—get the first date. Remember that you’re not looking for someone “to volunteer.” You’re looking for someone to commit as a volunteer for your cause.
  2. Develop strategic recruiting partnerships—build your network or a recruiting team. Don’t go it alone.
  3. Recruit short-term project teams. The more specific the time limit, the more people you’ll likely get to join you to help with a project. And short-term commitments might open the door to longer commitments.
  4. Assume that a “no” means “not now”, or “not this position.” Think of a “no” as an open door to listen carefully to the reasons behind the “no.”
  5. Develop roles and responsibilities or a position charter for each position. Don’t fill any position until you find the person who matches what you’re looking for.
  6. Recruit specific people for specific roles. Ask professionals to be in charge of significant areas of your organization that also represent what they love doing.
  7. Hire true volunteer managers—people who know and live out the principles of this book. Make sure they have a “positive volunteer attitude.” p.47

Again, not everything here relates, but most of us do this naturally with students. The McKees say that one of the two most likely groups to volunteer today is the young professional. The alumni of our ministries fit that category. I think alumni are an untapped resource in going after the mission God has given us.

I would encourage you to get The New Breed. I referred to it previously in another tip on Mobilizing Volunteers.

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