Maintaining the Volunteer

 I’m having trouble keeping volunteer workers. They start and then, after a few months, quit. Any suggestions?

The wise pastor views all volunteer workers as talented persons and will meet the basic needs of his workers in the areas of appreciation, courtesy, and recognition. Everyone appreciates being appreciated. Lyle E. Schaller in “The Care & Feeding of Volunteers,” offers the following guidelines in this area:

1) Volunteers need to hear thanks. Thanks is such a small word that it often gets overlooked. At other times, when it is said, it is over done. It must be said with grace and meaning.

Two kinds of thanks will turn off volunteers. The first comes in a request letter or statement that says, “Thank you in advance.” The second is the form letter to which the volunteer’s name is attached. This is often worse than no thanks at all. If the volunteer had to make the effort and find the time to do the task, then the pastor should find the time to send a thank-you note of recognition.

2) Volunteers   need recognition. Recognition at a major gathering in which friends and peers are present is especially helpful. Many people live out their lives without public thanks or recognition by the groups that mean the most to them.

3) Volunteers need to be treated courteously. In the rough-and-tumble of meeting deadlines and dealing with crises, pastors sometimes leave their volunteer leaders feeling slighted or with hurt feelings. Alert pastors will watch for this problem and correct it when it occurs. Curt words and rigid requirements are only occasionally appropriate for volunteers – and then only in highly defined circumstances.

These areas are highlighted because they are often overlooked. A volunteer must not be taken for granted, but rather, treated as vital parts of the Body of Christ.

(from IBC Perspectives – Volume 3 – Issue 5 – page 6)