Every church usually has two common goals – increase tithing and boost volunteering. Did you know your church website could help with both?
While adding an option for online tithing seems straightforward, gaining more volunteers might not seem as simple. However, it actually is.
In one study, churches were able to recruit as many as 43% of their members into some volunteer role. The top 10% stand out with as many as 72% of their members volunteering. Use these tips to boost your volunteer numbers.
Keep Opportunities Visible
Do you think your members hear everything you say on Sunday? It’s nice to think they never day dream or whisper to the person beside them, but the truth is, your members don’t pay complete attention the entire time.
This means while you’re busy announcing the latest volunteer opportunities and begging people to please help out, you may be lucky if even half of your members hear or remember what you said.
While handing out flyers or having signup sheets in the lobby does work, have a section of your website dedicated to volunteering. First, all opportunities are listed all the time. There are no flyers to lose or signup sheets to replace.
Second, people who are considering attending your church get an idea of how active your church currently is. If they want a church that’s more involved in the community, seeing a list of opportunities to join motivates them to give your church a try.
You may also want to list the current number of volunteers on a particular project. Seeing that others are involved may make people more likely to volunteer if they don’t they’ll have to be responsible for everything.
Explain Opportunities In Detail
Sure, you may need someone to help with your upcoming children’s play, but what does that involve? You’d be surprised to find out that many members never volunteer just because they have no idea what they’d be doing.
Boost volunteering by making responsibilities clear. For example, the children’s play volunteers may divide responsibilities, such as costuming, staging, directing, providing snacks, helping with practices, marketing and setting up.
Make it very clear what responsibilities you need help with. For instance, someone might not have a clue about directing, but be great with marketing. Now, volunteers not only know what opportunities are available, but when they sign up, they can also list which responsibilities they want to take on.
Putting the control in the volunteers’ hands makes them much more likely to sign up and help out.
Offer Virtual Opportunities
This one might sound strange at first, but your church could actually benefit from virtual volunteers. For example, could you use help with blogging or editing your blog? What about moderating social media and blog comments?
Perhaps you could use a few people to respond to new visitor questions that come through on your church website. If you think about it, you could likely save hours every week by bringing on some volunteers to help out digitally.
Why is this more appealing? It’s less of a commitment. Plus, everyone in your church family doesn’t want to spend their downtime working with a group of people. They may prefer some quiet time to wind down after a long day at work. So, working quietly online gives them the opportunity to give back to the church while still taking care of themselves too.
Of course, you also have to consider that once you get a volunteer engaged with virtual responsibilities, they’re more likely to want to do more offline too.
Encourage Sharing Of Volunteer Opportunities
You don’t have to limit volunteering to just your members. There could be members from other churches or even people who have schedules that don’t let them attend services who want to volunteer.
Offer a sharing option for all listed volunteer opportunities (or at least the ones where you don’t mind accepting non-members). Anyone on your site can share opportunities on social media and via email to help boost volunteering.
Let your site visitors be your champions for increasing your volunteers. In their own way, they’re volunteering to help grow the church and improve the community.
Recognize Volunteers On Your Site
Who doesn’t like to be recognized for their hard work? Admit it, you enjoy a good pat on the back for a job well done. So do your volunteers. Never showing appreciation is one of the reasons volunteers stop volunteering. Naturally, when news gets around, others may just avoid volunteering as well.
Have a special section listing your volunteers and how they’ve helped. You might even have a leaderboard that lists how many hours each volunteer puts in.
Of course, recognize them inside church too. Hold a special dinner for volunteers each year to thank them for their service.
Add A Volunteer-Only Section
Is the only way for your volunteers to contact each other in church or by phone? It’s not always convenient. For example, if volunteers have to not only spend time on the project itself but go to meetings as well, it may be too time consuming for them.
However, if they could just log on to your church website and view details, ask questions and submit ideas, it’s more convenient for everyone involved. Plus, no one has to give out phone numbers or email addresses if they don’t want to.
You can have a forum divided into individual projects or ministries. You could incorporate collaborative tools to allow volunteers to work together.
The most important thing is to keep this section separate from the rest of your website. Only volunteers will have access.
Allow Volunteer Messaging
If possible, consider having a volunteer messaging system in place. All messages are saved so they can go back and review them. It could work much like Facebook Messenger where volunteers can see who is and isn’t online at the moment.
This makes it even easier to discuss projects and ask questions. For new volunteers, they can view previous messages to catch up quickly and start helping out.
Ask For Volunteer Feedback
To boost volunteering, you have to be willing to listen. In the book The Other 80 Percent, the focus is on engaging the 80% of your members who aren’t actively engaged or who only volunteer now and then.
One of the most helpful suggestions is to ask all of your members, from the most engaged to the least, about their motivations and what holds them back. It’s only when you fully understand both your volunteers and those who don’t volunteer that you’re able to improve your volunteering program.
Volunteers offer feedback on what they like and don’t like. Non-volunteers provide insight into why they don’t want to or can’t volunteer. To make people more comfortable providing feedback, make the form available on your website. Remind members to fill it out to help your church improve volunteer opportunities and make it more engaging for everyone.
Explain Why It Matters
Why is volunteering so important? It may seem obvious to you, but it may not be to everyone else. If your church is helping feed the homeless on Saturdays, your members might not realize how much help you need and why.
Explain your volunteering projects on your church website. For instance, if you’re feeding the homeless, talk about how many people you feed every week. Explain that it’s all ages, including children. Add some testimonials from those you help that explain why it’s important to them.
Sometimes, knowing why it matters and how it impacts others inspires people to volunteer. You may just find you get volunteers that aren’t members too. Any help is always appreciated, though.
Add Videos From Those You’ve Helped
To go a step further, add some videos to your site that show your volunteers in action. Also, interview people you’ve helped. Many people don’t realize how much of an impact a few hours here and there truly make.
Hearing and seeing the results often inspires people to take action. Give them that emotional connection. Simply asking for volunteers doesn’t always work. Boost volunteering by actually showing people what they’d be doing and how much it truly impacts the community and others.
Offer Free Training Resources
Often times, it’s not a matter of not wanting to volunteer, but not knowing how to do certain tasks. It’s not unusual for people to be embarrassed to say they don’t know how to do something.
Add free training resources to your church’s website to help volunteers better understand what to do and how to do it. For instance, if you need someone to spearhead projects, offer some leadership training articles or links to free online courses.
This is just one of the ways to help equip your volunteers for success. You may also want to have a list of free online courses to help potential volunteers learn and master new skills to better help out.
Explain Time Commitments
You may have more people eager to volunteer than you might think. To boost volunteering, list the time commitments along with any opportunities. For people with busy schedules, they may only have an hour or two a week free.
If they think an opportunity might require five or six hours a week, they won’t sign up. However, many people won’t ask for fear that someone will try to guilt them into volunteering anyway.
In addition to the actual hours a week, also explain the duration of the project. For instance, working on an upcoming dinner or play would be a temporary opportunity. Visiting people in the hospital would be a longer term opportunity, though members could still do it for short periods if they wanted.
Give your volunteers an easy way to determine if an opportunity fits their schedule.
Explain They Can Stop At Any Time
Things come up and you can’t always help it. However, dropping out of a volunteer position shouldn’t be a problem. Place a note on your volunteer page that your church understands that you may need to stop volunteering at any time and that’s okay.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as a group just doesn’t work well together. Knowing they don’t have to stay in a situation that don’t like or suddenly don’t have time for makes it easier for them to commit to an opportunity, even if it’s only temporary.
Ask Them To Submit Skills/Ideas
Maybe it’s not that your members aren’t interested in volunteering. They just don’t have any interest in current projects or any skills that match what you need.
This is easy to fix. Use your church’s website to boost volunteering by asking them what’s dear to their hearts. Ask them to submit their best skills and strengths.
You might just be amazed at how much feedback you actually receive. You may even get information from other people in your community who have time to help, but their schedule just doesn’t let them attend regular service hours.
Use this information to create more engaging opportunities for your members. For instance, if you have several people who love to cook, create an opportunity that involves cooking, such as feeding school children during the summer or making packaged meals for the elderly and shut-ins.
Add Reminders To Your Newsletter & Social Media
Finally, remind your members where to find everything they need to know about volunteering. You can still make announcements, which is ideal for those who may not get online.
However, it’s easy to forget to check your church’s website, especially if someone’s new to your church. Add reminders to your church’s newsletter, both digital and physical (if you have one), and social media. The more you promote your volunteer section on your church’s site, the more people who will check it out and get involved.
Also, encourage your members to share the social media posts or forward the newsletter to friends and family. The more you get the word out, the easier it is to grow your church.
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