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6 Simple Steps to Set Volunteers Up for Success

6 Simple Steps to Set Volunteers Up for Success
  • Name
    Phil Cooke

One of the biggest challenges many of our clients face is maximizing their volunteer teams. Some have just given up and don’t use them at all. However, no matter how big your organization, you can stretch your resources and impact by bringing on motivated volunteers. I asked Dan Wathen, our Executive Producer at Cooke Pictures, about it because he’s been a church media director and knows just how effective great volunteers can be for an organization. When it comes to creating a great volunteer team, here are Dan’s suggestions:

DAN WATHEN: I’ve always said if you can manage volunteers you can manage any team. Building a volunteer base might be one of the toughest endeavors a Media Director will encounter on the job.  Over my career, here are six tips I’ve learned that can make a positive difference for you: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  To your surprise, people want to help but they are just waiting on you to ask. You may be thinking, “Come on, Dan, these people work multiple jobs already and may even have a family.” This is true, but many times working in media or another area is a welcome hobby which takes their mind off the everyday. As the Bible says, "You have not because you ask not," so give it a shot. Delegate, delegate, delegate.  This was the hardest thing for me to learn and took most of my career to understand. I wanted things to be perfect and in return I was adding more stress and workload, but the biggest problem was that I was withholding an opportunity for a volunteer. The truth is we all need to give up a bit of control and desire for perfection and see what could happen with others helping us. Yes, there may be a bit more work on the front end but in the long term it can reap big results. Set measurable expectations. Don’t feel apprehensive because they're not being paid and think they don’t desire benchmarks. Set manageable expectations such as: call times, task lists and due dates. I’ve found creating detailed job descriptions is a priceless way to add value and expectations to any volunteer position. It may seem like overkill to have this for smaller positions, but trust me they will appreciate it and so will your pastor or supervisor. Locate leaders.  These are the people that are not only going to support you but help implement your vision to the other volunteers. “Buy in” happens when fellow volunteer peers start to understand the reason behind their work. Approach those on your team who have the respect of the team and display potential to take on more responsibility. Communicate to your team.  Nothing helps the team more than communicating with them on a regular basis. Remember that “frustration ends when communication begins” and this is so true! I’ve even solved many volunteer issues by bringing them to my volunteer leaders and allowing them come up with the solution. Find your replacement.  It’s natural to want to protect your job, but as the song says let it go! Always be on the lookout for that person with a unique spark who could one day take your job, then start investing into them. You will find its rewarding to duplicate yourself.