Building a System of Volunteer Care

Have you ever tried to cancel a cable package?  I have ended cable and internet services a few times in recent years.  Every time I go through the process I am shocked by how hard I have to fight to get my service ended.  Because I am stubborn I continue pushing until I have completed all the cancellation steps.  I do wonder along the way how many people stop mid-way through the process and decide, “I guess I’ll just cancel another time.”

It makes sense why the process to cancel is so long.  These companies spend loads of money and energy to retain customers. They place a high value on keeping current customers.

Volunteers are not customers.  A leader’s job is not to necessarily “retain” volunteers, however it is our job as leaders to create an environment where people want to serve for the long haul.  The term I tend to use for this process is “volunteer care.”  We as leaders must create a process for volunteer care; a system which will allow the people we lead to flourish.  When people flourish on a team they tend to stay invested and connected.

To care well for volunteers, it is essential to leverage regular rhythms.  Rhythms give something of form and cadence to your system of care.  Here are 4 rhythms to leverage as you care for the people you lead:

  • Connect weekly – The value of ongoing connection might be best highlighted by the void that is felt when it is missing. A weekly connect does not mean there must be an event on your calendar or an appointment at Starbucks.  It might be as simple as sending a weekly communication to the people you lead – providing helpful information, a cool story or basic encouragement.
  • Develop monthly – Development helps a person grow into all God intends them to be. For the most zealous of leaders it might look like a monthly meeting for development.  More often than not, investing in the development of your volunteers means offering a suggested book, podcast or leadership thought that challenges them in their current role.
  • Equip quarterly – Vision tends to leak, tools grow dull and methods change. Every 3-4 months it is wise to take intentional time to pour vision back into your volunteers.  Spend 3-4 times a year helping your team sharpen their tools, giving them tips and training that can help them grow in their effectiveness.
  • Celebrate annually – Once a year you should have an all-out party to celebrate all that the team has accomplished in the last year. Share some stories, honor some volunteer heroes, and enjoy time with the people who serve together to accomplish great things.  An annual celebration offers a great chance to reflect on the past and gain momentum for the year ahead.

One thought on “Building a System of Volunteer Care

  1. So true Cory! As a volunteer coordinator of a faith based addiction center, I added many volunteers due to all of these principles. Volunteers at simply that: giving of themselves, sacrificing time, money and love for others. How could I not appreciate them and acknowledge their generous hearts! Great post, blessings back,


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