This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, but we know volunteerism has no season. Spring. Fall. Summer. Winter. In every season, many ministry efforts in churches are winding down. Others are kicking into high gear. None of them would succeed without a serious investment of time, thought, and effort on the part of volunteers and church staff alike.
How do you thank your church and school staff and volunteers for all they do year-round? Business leaders often say, “What gets measured gets done.” When we work with volunteers, might say instead, “What gets noticed gets done—and done again the next time it’s needed!”
Two Ideas for Noticing the Contributions of Others
- It’s easy to overlook things that are going right—easy, but dangerous! Do you focus attention on the positives in your program or on your staff ? Do you commend the nursery workers who always arrive 10–15 minutes before the service? Do you thank your pastor for keeping the Gospel the main focus in his sermons? Let others know you see what they do and that you thank God for their giftedness!
- Spend a few minutes every Monday morning or every Friday evening thinking back on the week just past. Ask yourself, “What person, event, or group made a specific, significant difference for our church (or school) during the past seven days?” Then send a handwritten note or personal e-mail to say two things—you noticed and you’re thankful!
Four Reasons for Saying Thanks
- We want to honor our Lord by thanking him for the people-gifts he gives.
- We want to remind everyone of the huge difference staff members and volunteers make in individual lives and in our church or organization.
- Our love helps staff and volunteers “keep on keeping on” in the tough times.
- When we express our appreciation, it motivates others to do better work and to take on further responsibilities.
Six Ways to Encourage Hearts
Some interesting research has shown that three basic things motivate most people: achievement (accomplishing something worthwhile), affiliation (belonging to something worthwhile), and power (making a worthwhile impact). Here are six ways to build on that research.
- Measure progress toward significant goals.
- Create options for working in groups or individually, depending on personal preference.
- Recruit for a variety of tasks—some that involve lots of responsibility and some that don’t. Let both leaders and followers see good reasons to participate.
- Make it possible for workers to see projects through to the end. Then celebrate together!
- Pay attention to co-workers, listening to them and affirming their efforts as well as the end results.
- Make sure that people who carry responsibility for a task also carry the necessary decision-making authority. Then trust them to make the right choices. Most of the time, you won’t be disappointed.
Eight Simple Ways to Recognize Staff & Volunteers
- Post pictures of volunteers in action. Caption the photos with names (spelled correctly!) and affirming descriptions.
- Give each person a Mars candy bar. Attach a note that says something like, “Your contribution is out of this world! Thanks for all you do for God’s people.”
- Be sure to remember each person’s birthday. Send a card. Buy a balloon. Bake cupcakes. A handwritten note expressing genuine appreciation for that person’s unique giftedness and service will go a long way! (Find ways to get those who serve with that person to sign the card and add a sentence or two of their own, too!)
- Make a habit of saying, “Thank you for [name a specific contribution],” to five people a day. Keep track to make sure you’re reaching—or exceeding—your quota. Make sure to spread these out at random and single out each person in your sphere of influence an approximately equal number of times in a week or month. (You may want to track it!)
- Include volunteers in the staff meetings that focus on their areas of responsibility. Ask for their ideas and input. Carefully consider these and implement them whenever possible.
- Host a spontaneous ice-cream sundae, “fru-fru” coffee, or popsicle party.
- Ask skilled volunteers to recruit, orient, and mentor new volunteers.
If you need help thanking, encouraging, or recognizing volunteers, take advantage of CTA’s FREE volunteer management resources. You’ll find the exact tools and resources you need to make your volunteer program shine!
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