9 Questions to Build a Volunteer Team

Sometimes I get to sit down and share some of my personal thoughts, experience or opinions around working with volunteers. I, like many of you, am on the journey trying to become the best leader I can for the volunteers I serve alongside. Sometimes I come across a thought or a series of thoughts from someone else that are so good I cannot help but share them.

With that in mind, here are 9 Questions to build a volunteer team:

  1. How do you GET people to serve? You cannot lead with guilt – manipulation does not cultivate healthy volunteers. You cannot lead by desperation – making people think you need them in order to survive. Get people serving with vision – the goal is not more people doing more things; the goal is people becoming more like Jesus. (Click to tweet)
  2. How do you RECRUIT people to serve? Simply put you have to ask people, and you cannot shy away from “the ask.” Good people are busy and not often looking for more things to do. That does not mean they are unwilling to serve, it means you have to be bold and ask – and empower your volunteers to do the same.
  3. How do you IDENTIFY volunteer leaders? Look for people who have influence among you. You need more than the busiest or most productive person in the room. Find potential leaders that care more about who people are becoming rather than what they are doing. (Click to tweet)
  4. How do you PREVENT volunteer burnout? Continually grow your circle, avoid asking the same few people to do everything. That will help you to continue to tap new people. Add into that mix a habit of consistent conversations with the people you lead. Keep your finger on the pulse of the health of team members.
  5. How do you TRAIN volunteers? Training volunteers starts at a very simple place – you have to explain what the role and give room to ask questions. After explaining it you move into modeling it – let volunteers watch you and see how you do it. Then let them do it and you hang back to support, and eventually they serve and you keep yourself busy elsewhere.
  6. How do you COMMUNICATE to volunteers? Communicate with clarity while being concise and consistent. Be clear so they understand the expectations. Be concise as to treat their time as valuable. Finally be consistent by having a regular schedule of when you reach out to them.
  7. How do you APPRECIATE volunteers? Leverage things such as a personal hand written note, a quick 30 second “thank you” when you see them serve or even large appreciation style events. Find ways to highlight the results of their service and thank them for contributing to the results.
  8. How LONG do you ask a volunteer to COMMITT to serve? When someone finds their ideal spot to serve they no longer think about questions like, “how long do you need me here?” The ultimate goal is to get people to their sweet spot. When they begin serving asking them to start with a shorter length commitment such as 1-2 months to get their feet wet.
  9. What can only staff members do that would be considered off limits to a volunteer? The short answer – almost nothing! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking some things should only be handled by staff. You would be surprise how many things would actually be extremely well cared for and grown under volunteer leadership.

One thought on “9 Questions to Build a Volunteer Team

  1. Very good points.We have just been stopped from volunteering because of something that someone “said” happened they have brought back from 7 years ago,when actually nothing happened.We can’t even make Tea !!


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