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5 Sure-Fire Tips for Recruiting and Keeping Volunteers

9.12 FixedAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment was at 8.3 percent as of July 2012.  But the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) has provided a silver lining: In 2010, volunteer program managers in Minnesota reported that people hit by unemployment often turn to volunteering to gain skills and references.  In their study, "66 percent of those organizations experiencing increased inquiries about volunteering indicated the increase was primarily driven by unemployed people."

Getting and keeping volunteers can be hard, but there are people out there who are looking for a place to serve. Here are tips for finding and keeping new volunteers for your ministry.

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1. Younger volunteers. According to the MAVA, two of the fastest growing volunteer groups are students looking or about to start looking for jobs, as well as "millennials." I fell under both of those categories when I first started looking at a church to work at, and I ended up staying there for six years. This group is eager, energetic, and can provide positive role models for your kids. If you live near a college, find out if it has any Christian organizations, like a Baptist Campus Association, Wesley Foundation, or a Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Contact their leader and ask if you can put up flyers asking for volunteers.

2. Be specific. When asking for volunteers, be specific with your needs. While we all love a volunteer who can be a "wild card" and do anything we ask for, that person is not always easy to find. To get people interested, you need to let them know what they'll be doing and how long they will be doing it.

3. Get personal. I'm a huge fan of skits. I love doing short, funny, attention-grabbing scenes that will let people know what's going on. That kind of marketing for volunteers hits a lot of people, and you will have better luck if afterwards you go and talk to people one-on-one. That personal connection goes a long way in getting people to walk into your ministry. Here's a challenge: Ask each of your current volunteers to talk to two people in the upcoming week. One should be someone they are friends with and they think could be a good fit for your ministry. The other should be someone they don't get to see or sit by too often. This helps build connections and contacts and will give your volunteerism a boost.

4. Stay connected. Communication is key in any relationship, and your volunteers are no different. They need to hear from you and you need to hear from them. Have meetings, but keep them at a reasonable length and try to schedule them when the most can come (a midday meeting will miss anyone working business hours). At your meetings, encourage your team. Let them know that what they do really matters. Share your vision with them and get them excited about it. And let them share their questions and concerns.

5. Expert advice. If you haven't checked out Group's Church Volunteer Central, give it a look. They have all sorts of tools and information to help you find, equip, and keep volunteers. With Volunteer Central, you can get one-on-one consultations, online training for your crew, and pre-made forms and templates to make your leadership role a successful one. They also offer free samples of some of their work, so you can see some of all the cool stuff they have.

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A few weeks ago, I posted a couple of stories on safety. So, as your team grows, make sure to take the time to screen your volunteers, new and old, to keep your kids safe. Keep recruiting and soon you will have a full staff of volunteers ready to help you.

We want to hear what works for you! Tell us how you recruit new volunteers. Share your tips and tricks in the comment section below.

Posted at 11:13

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