Health & Medical Self-Improvement

Connecting With and Keeping Volunteers

Building a consistent volunteer base was a daunting task during my early years as director of our local crisis pregnancy center.
Since volunteers are the heartbeat of successful ministries, I knew I needed to give careful attention to their needs by engaging and cultivating their interest and skills.
There are three crucial points I learned about volunteers:
  1. It's important to keep them informed about the ministry and its progress.
  2. It's key to keep them involved in the life of the ministry.
  3. It's essential to thank each one in personal and meaningful ways.
Involve Volunteers in Your Mission The crisis pregnancy center had a mission statement that we shared with all new volunteers, but explaining the "why" is what touched their hearts.
Effective volunteer leadership requires you to
  • Communicate why you exist
  • Share where the ministry is going
  • Invite them to help you meet needs
Engage Volunteers in Your Work Since people receive information differently, be aware of the response your communication generates.
In training and communicating with volunteers, take into account three basic ways they receive information:
  • Visual - charts, graphs and images explain in measurable ways how the ministry is accomplishing its goal.
  • Auditory - dialogue and discussion allows people to process and make sense of information.
  • Feeling - emotions create a bond and connection with the words and visuals.
Learning to flex your communication style will create better connections with the amazing people who stand beside you in ministry.
Thank Volunteers for Their Commitment Connecting with volunteers one-on-one takes time and effort but the rewards are worth it.
Never overlook the importance of non-verbal communication by:
  • Connecting visually - focus on the other person.
  • Connecting intellectually - pay attention, ask questions and listen.
  • Connecting emotionally - within professional boundaries, offer a touch, pat on the back or hug.
Don't forget about the little gifts, meant only for that volunteer - their favorite latte, a gift certificate for a favorite store or a handwritten note.
Expressing appreciation for volunteers is a key part of an engaging relationship, so do whatever you can to create a volunteer appreciation line item in the budget.
Volunteers Matter Most Sam Walton, Wal-Mart founder, once stated "From this day forward, I solemnly promise and declare that every time a customer comes within 10 feet of me, I will smile, look him in the eye, and greet him.
" This is excellent advice for any of us who work with volunteers.
Have you greeted your volunteer today?

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