Editor’s note: Today, we continue the series titled “Ask Karen.” CTA’s volunteer expert, Karen Kogler, will answer one of the most pressing volunteer-related questions facing church leaders in 2017. If you have a question you’d like to ask Karen, just post it in the comments section!
Question: Our church just got new software and it has a special section for volunteer management. I don’t want to be too involved with statistics, but what volunteer data should we be tracking?
Answer: When something matters to us, we track it. If you want to go on vacation, you know how many dollars are in the vacation fund. If you want to lose weight, you know how many pounds you lost this month. So when it comes to keeping data on volunteers, you first need to ask: What’s important to your church regarding your volunteers?
Recruitment is a universal concern, and the most effective recruitment is personally asking the people most likely to be interested. So the first task of any volunteer database is to record the gifts, interests, and passions of your people. You want to be able to easily search your database for individuals who love photography, the people who enjoy cooking for a crowd, or the ones who are good organizers.
When you’re inviting people to serve, it’s also helpful if your database can tell you:
- Where are they serving now? Where have they served in the past? This can help reveal interests, trends in their volunteering, and any potential scheduling conflicts.
- Are they regularly in worship? Faithful attendance would be a prerequisite for an elder, but for other tasks, an invitation to serve might be a way to reconnect with someone whose attendance has declined.
- Comment fields, when searchable, are useful and can hold a variety of information. “Regina ran an in-home daycare center years ago.” “Fred has a chauffeur’s license.” “Ed’s dad moved in with him and Eleanor last month, so they both have their hands full right now.” “Renee grew up in France.”
Most nonprofits can tell you how many volunteers they have and the number of hours each has served. We don’t generally do that in churches, and we have so many faithful volunteers that it would be a huge task! But it’s something to consider. You might want to know:
- Are we gaining or losing volunteers? Are the total hours served going up or down? In all our ministries, or just some?
- How are various generations—teens, millennials, boomers, seniors—represented in our volunteers?
- How much of our volunteering is in the church versus in the community? short-term versus ongoing?
What’s important to you? Consider how volunteers play into the mission of your church and you’ll know what data to track.
Do you have a question for Karen? Post it in the comments section and you may see it appear in the next edition of “Ask Karen.”
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