6 Ways To Lower Your Volunteer Turnover Rate

Volunteers are key to the health and growth of every church or ministry. They can draw people in, make people want to be a part of the vision, and keep the weekend services running smoothly.

If your volunteers feel valued by their church leadership, it will make immense growth and improvements happen in your church or nonprofit. However, if your volunteers don’t feel valued, your volunteer turnover rate will be high, and church growth is highly unlikely.

Here are a few ways you can value your volunteers, keep your volunteer turnover rate down, and encourage them to invite others in to serve alongside you and your church.

1. Provide structure.

First and foremost, make sure you have clear and concise schedules and structure for your volunteer teams. Send out routine reminders to volunteers a week before as well as the night before about the time they are needed at the church and what their role and responsibilities will be. Yes, sometimes last minute changes may happen, but having an organized plan will always serve you and your volunteers well. Your volunteers are giving up their free time to serve, and you will drive them away if they feel that their time is being wasted or they don’t know what is expected of them. Your volunteer turnover rate could easily be lowered with a little bit of organization. Don’t abuse your volunteer’s time.

2. Allow for input.

Volunteers need to feel like they are being heard and not just being used.Tweet: Volunteers need to feel like they are being heard and not just being used. http://ctt.ec/AZxVo+ via @VanderbloemenSG

Sometimes there will be a flaw in your volunteer system that they may see but you don’t. Outside eyes can see things that you may not. Give them the freedom to address those things. Maybe have an opinion box where they can put in ideas for ways to make things better. You can also allow for input by meeting with the volunteers regularly and occasionally individually to see how they are doing. This will give them the incentive to work harder because they will know that what they do is adding to the ministry of the church and ultimately to the Kingdom.

3. Say “thank you” regularly.

Send a “thank you” email to your volunteers on a regular basis. Say “thank you” when you see them. Every so often, go the extra mile and take the time to write and send a hand-written card. Letting your volunteers know that you see what they are doing and how they are adding value goes a long way. Letting them know in writing means even more.

Also, find out when your volunteers’ birthdays are and send them a birthday card or birthday e-card. Once or twice a year, plan a volunteer appreciation event with a special meal and childcare provided. Thank them publically for everything they are doing to help your church run and grow. Your volunteers should be celebrated!

4. Use social media to your advantage.

Use your church’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Periscope account to highlight a volunteer or a group of volunteers each week. Share with the congregation how the volunteers are making an impact or simply share a volunteer’s story. This will do two things to help your volunteer team:

1)   Show the volunteer that they are appreciated, and

2)   Bring in people who aren’t yet volunteering.

People like to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If the members at your church can see how serving the church is also serving Jesus, then they will want to be a part of it as well.

5. Budget for and give tokens of appreciation.

From time to time, give your volunteers small tokens of appreciation.  This can be as small as having gourmet coffee available to them before they head out to greet strangers or walk into a room full of crazy and wonderful kiddos. Do a volunteer raffle once or twice a month where volunteers have the chance to win a date night or a gift card to a local movie theater or store.

Another thing that you can implement is a discretionary budget specifically for giving gifts or gift cards to volunteers who have volunteered for a certain amount of time or who have gone above and beyond in their role. This could even look like a quarterly volunteer luncheon or dinner where volunteers can get to know one another.  

6. Be present.

As a church staff member or a ministry leader, you need to be fully present for your volunteers, physically and emotionally. 

If you lead the Children’s Ministry, walk in the different classrooms for a few minutes on Sunday and see how the volunteers are doing. If you’re leading the greeters or parking ministry, make a pit stop by each volunteer and say “hi.” Make sure you are accessible. If you give off the air that you don’t have time for the people who give up their free time to serve, they will feel ignored and eventually you will lose their service.

If you take away one thing from this blog post, it should be this:

Take the time to get to know your volunteers.Tweet: Take the time to get to know your volunteers. http://ctt.ec/44zf2+ via @VanderbloemenSG #volunteer #ministry

People need and want to be known. So get to know these people who are giving up their time on a Saturday night or Sunday morning to serve the church. If you can acknowledge their sacrifice and show them they are valued, even in the smallest of ways, your volunteer base will grow and will be a beautiful example of the Kingdom to your community.

How will you show your volunteers they are appreciated this week?