How Many Church Volunteers Should I Have to Be Successful?
Your church relies on volunteers to be successful, but how many do you need? Is there such a thing as too many volunteers? Who do you blame if not enough of your congregants are participating in volunteer opportunities? These are all common questions that we hear every day from church leaders.
Here at Donorwerx, we love coaching church leaders and helping them take their ministries to the next level through sustainable growth. Volunteerism plays a crucial role in that, yet many churches fail to emphasize just how important it is to their long-term success.
Volunteering isn’t just “free labor” for the church. It’s about mobilizing your congregation, instilling passion for God’s mission within them, and seeing that passion at work to grow your church and impact your community. So, how many volunteers should you have? As many as possible, and here’s how to achieve it.
Paid Staff Negatively Impacts Volunteerism
It has been shown that there is a direct correlation between the money your church is spending on staffing and the number of people who volunteer—and it may not seem obvious to you at first.
As a church leader, you know that you spend money on staffing because there’s a dire need for work to be done and your ministry is stretched too thin. You may hire staff because there’s a shortage of volunteers and/or because your church is experiencing a period of growth that outpaces its current resources. In these times, you’re probably in big need of more volunteers. Yet, congregants don’t see things in the same way.
It’s been found that, as a church hires on more staff, fewer people volunteer. This may be because of the mindset that, if the church is paying these people, they don’t need volunteers. Perhaps congregants figure a church that is hiring staff has an abundance of financial resources and can just hire more. Or, maybe they feel that their time is better spent elsewhere if someone is getting paid to do the work they would do for free.
The fact is, many things go through the minds of your congregants and you can’t pretend to know what they’re thinking. What you can do, though, is recognize the correlation between staffing and volunteering. Does it mean you should fire staff if you need volunteers? Does it mean you shouldn’t hire more staff in fear of losing volunteers? The answer isn’t either of those methods.
Resetting the Volunteer Mindset
The average church mobilizes about 43 percent of their adult and student attendees through volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is discipleship, and the more of your congregants who actively volunteer, the better you’re doing as a ministry at instilling a faith-based lifestyle in your supporters.
Volunteering is not a competition. It’s not about filling roles. It’s not about saving money on staff. Your church’s leaders and supporters both need to take some time and evaluate the mindset you have on volunteering — because if you don’t have enough volunteers or you’re short on staff, it’s a faith problem, not a resource problem.
You should look at your numbers and ask yourself, if your church mobilizing at least 43 percent of its ministry? If not, you need to make that your first goal. If you are, you should pat yourself on the back. Now, you should aim to mobilize 100 percent of it.
While 100 percent volunteerism may not be plausible, it’s entirely possible, and it should be your church’s goal. Volunteering is critical because it enables your church to address the culture of your congregation and help move them in the right direction, toward discipleship. It isn’t about getting something out of people, but offering them the opportunity to feel God’s love, spread His mission, and do His work. It’s is at the core of living like Jesus.
Encourage Volunteerism At Your Church
Follow these steps to help encourage volunteerism at your church and attract more volunteers.
1. Make a List of Volunteers Currently Serving
List the volunteers who are currently serving your church, including their name, role and how many hours they volunteer each week. This master list will allow you to identify volunteer roles and any redundancy or deficiency in volunteer service. You may find that a handful of volunteers are doing the brunt of the labor.
2. Paint The Perfect Picture
With your master list, you can spot places where you need more volunteers. Now, it’s time to ask yourself how many volunteers it would take for your “perfect” ministry. What roles would they serve? How many hours would they serve? How many new volunteers do you need to reach these goals? To help you plan, create an organizational chart for your ministry and fill in the blanks.
3. Identify What Needs to Change
Once you know what the perfect volunteer schedule would look like and how many more volunteers you need to bring that to life, ask yourself: What needs to change to enable that to happen? What’s different about your perfect ministry? This requires you to step back and consider what’s working at your church and what isn’t.
You’re already doing something to recruit volunteers, and you need to analyze it to consider how you can make your recruiting efforts more impactful. You also need to consider how you’re currently placing volunteers. Gathering feedback from current and past volunteers will help you identify issues or shortcomings that could be impacting their willingness or ability to volunteer.
For instance, if you placed a young mother in a mid-week volunteer slot after work and it ended up interfering with her child’s after-school programs or her work schedule, you need to have an open channel of communication so that you don’t lose that volunteer. You also need to consider individuals and their needs when they apply as volunteers. Make sure the volunteer application considers their schedules and preferences as to when and what they’re doing.
Instill Passion in Your Congregation
The Donorwerx software is often praised for its donor management strategy, but it goes beyond just managing your donations. With Donorwerx, you can better manage and communicate with your entire congregation, encouraging and enabling volunteerism and, ultimately, meeting your church’s goals.
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