We’ve established the importance of volunteers many times before. They are your lifeblood. Without them, it would be nearly impossible to do ministry at all! But a crucial part of sustaining longevity with your volunteers falls entirely in your lap—communication. How, what, and when you communicate with your teams can make or break their experience and their buy-in to the vision of your ministry.
How to Communicate
It’s always important to go where the people are when it comes to communication. That might not be where YOU are or where YOU want to be . . . but this is not about you! Starting with social media is always a good go-to. Utilizing your ministry feeds—and sometimes your personal feeds—to communicate with your volunteers is a good option. Even more personal and intentional is texting them. Individual texts can take time, but it is absolutely the best way to get in touch with most people. Emails are also reliable. If you have big volunteer teams, you might consider using a service like Planning Center for scheduling services and teams, which makes communicating with a lot of people easy. If you are not in the service programming world, there are apps for your phone like GroupMe that make group texting very easy, no matter who you are texting and what their plan is. When in doubt about how to communicate with your teams, ask them! Take a survey to find out what their preferred method of communication is—and listen!
What to Communicate
The obvious items to communicate with your team are logistical—when you need them, where you need them, details, etc. Beyond those types of communication, it is going to be very important for you to prioritize informal communication with your volunteers. Check in with them. Ask how their week is going. If they have a major surgery or a holiday or a prayer request, make sure you are keeping track of that information and following up. If this feels overwhelming to you, block out a little time each day to do this kind of correspondence. Create a follow-up team who can help with this. Do something! Make it a priority. These people give hours of their time each week . . . for free! The least that we can do is to make sure that they feel loved, cared for, and that communication is not just about ministry-related items.
When to Communicate
There is no wrong time to communicate! I am a firm believer in over-communicating expectations and care for the people who are on our volunteer teams. Have you ever heard “I appreciate you” too much? Or have you ever been annoyed at a clarification email? No! We love these things. They make us feel secure and wanted. This is the same for your volunteers. They want to know you are thinking of them and that you have their best interest in mind. Your communication must reflect this. They are on the frontlines with kids and families, and your job is to communicate well with them so that they can do their job well. So, communicate often and regularly. There is no “too much” . . . unless you’re spamming their every waking hour, but I think most of us know the difference!Have you ever heard, 'I appreciate you' too much? Click To Tweet
Ultimately, communication for me with my volunteers is going to look different than communication with you and your volunteers, so these tips are starting points. But always find out where your people are and what works best for them . . . and then use that method!
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