5 Things Your Volunteers Almost Told You Before Leaving


In ministry, good volunteers can make or break your long-term success.

Regardless of the reason, here are 5 things your volunteers might be telling you without telling you.

1. I had more to offer than what you gave me to do.

High-capacity volunteers don’t mind giving their time to a cause, but if they feel underused, they may jump ship for another role. Leading high-capacity people requires a keen eye for talent and putting people in a place where their gifts and abilities can be used effectively. If you have that corporate VP serving at the front desk, it might be time to find them a bigger role.

      • Ask yourself: How can I step up the responsibility level of those high-capacity volunteers?

2. I would have served sooner had you asked.

Recruiting perfect strangers into a volunteer role is a simple task for some personalities; for others, it can be a frightening ordeal. Due to the fluctuation of volunteers, it’s a good rule to always be recruiting or shoulder-tapping. If you aren’t the primary recruiter for the ministry, find someone who can be. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help but are shy about speaking up about it.

Find various avenues where people might get connected, such as membership class or the men’s/women’s ministry, etc. and don’t be scared to make the “big ask.” There are people right around you everyday that would be willing to join you to make a difference if you simply asked.

      • Ask yourself: From how many areas am I pulling people into the church's ministries?

3. I would have stayed longer if I had some training.

One of the biggest fears of stepping into a volunteer role is not knowing what to do. People desire community, and many people want to serve and are often willing to give their time; however if they sense they’ll fail or be lost in the process, they won’t go near it. If you want to keep quality volunteers around long-term, develop a clear process for teaching them how to do what you need done so that they feel confident and competent. On-the-job training sounds good, but it’s often a recipe for volunteer confusing or frustration.

      • Ask yourself: Do I have a clear and simple process that trains new volunteers how to do ministry in our context?

4. By the way, my name is _________.

Many people start volunteering in order to feel connected to the church or to those they serve alongside. In a society that is increasingly losing a personal touch, the church should be the standard bearer when it comes to making people feel cared for. If a volunteer gives of their precious time and energy, and over the course of time, still feels like an outsider, they’ll find another place to be known. 

      • Ask yourself: Do I know all of my volunteers by name?

5. I had more important things to do.

People are busy, and their time is extremely valuable. When they step into a volunteer role, they expect things to be run smoothly and with excellence. If you are unorganized, show up to volunteer meetings late, pester them, or show signs of immaturity, people may perceive the ministry they’re serving in as unimportant.  After all, if you don’t take it seriously, why should they? Having fun in ministry and being transparent aren’t excuses for being flippant or unprofessional. God has entrusted you with a ministry to his people, it should be taken seriously and done in excellence or people will leave.

      • Ask yourself: Am I valuing my volunteers' time and doing things in excellence?

Most people aren’t going to tell you any of these things. They might say things like, “I’m just too busy,” or “I’m not good at that.” These could be legitimate excuses, but many times there’s a reason behind the reason. Minimize your volunteer losses by re-examining these 5 areas of your ministry.

What other ways can help you prevent volunteers from falling away?

If you liked this, then you’ll also like 4 Signs Your Volunteers Are Getting Burned Out (And How To Fix It).