Retaining Your Volunteers
What would happen if I just didn't lose volunteers? A lot of times we need volunteers because the back door is open, and we are losing volunteers for one reason or another. Now while you always be adding volunteers to the top of the funnel (you need to be adding new people), you also need to be giving attention to the bottom of the funnel or the backdoor, whatever you want to say. What am I doing to really care for these volunteers, to nurture those volunteers so that they don't leave? Here's something that I learned a long time ago, and I've learned this as I've worked with pastors. When you talk about growing your church, (and I'm going to make the application to volunteers as well) if I'm talking to a pastor about growth strategies for their church, I will remind them in a gentle and respectful way that what it takes to get people, it takes to keep people.
So if you are growing your church based upon these high-dollar flashy events, then you better prepare to continue doing these high dollar flashy events. Because if you don't, you're going to lose those same people. What it takes to get people, it takes to keep people. If there are people that are coming to your church because of the well produced program, then you've got to keep a well-produced program going to keep those people. If you're tracking with me, what it takes to keep or get a volunteer, it takes to keep a volunteer. If I am relying on bulletin announcements to get volunteers, or one off strategies where you sign up for this on a clipboard, or text this to do this. If I'm not recruiting based on relationships, a vetting process, an onboarding process, training, and shadowing, then I am going to have a retention problem.
What it takes to keep volunteers or get volunteers, it takes to keep volunteers. My onboarding process will directly impact my retention rates. In other words, if I recruit a volunteer and they say yes, and the first Sunday I throw them in a room and walk away, there's a really good chance that volunteers not going to stick, right? But if I build a relationship with that volunteer, if I spend time with that volunteer, if I get to know them, if I put them with a shadow, if I spend time making sure they understand how the children's ministry works and what we expect from them and what you can expect from us. If I do a four week follow up and a 12 week follow up, and I really am investing a lot of time on the front end with that volunteer, guess what? I'm going to get a lot more time from that volunteer on the back.
I hope that you're tracking with me here. You need to ask yourself this question: what is my retention strategy? Do I have a retention strategy? I mean for some of us it's easy to nod your head and say, "yes, I have a retention strategy" or, "yes, I need one," but then I don't have one. So what does your retention strategy look like? Practically, how well are you doing onboarding volunteers? How well are you doing showing appreciation to your volunteers? How well are you doing making sure that your volunteers have what they need? How well are you doing providing growth opportunities for your volunteers? How well are you doing giving your volunteers breaks from time to time? That is all part of the retention strategy. When you have a retention strategy that you are really following, you're not going to have near the problem with keeping volunteers. In fact, you'll probably have a hard time losing them.
Your #1 fan,