by Jane L. Fryar
Do you recognize the cheer? It’s been around for decades, but the need to feel appreciated has been around much longer than that—thousands of years, in fact!
As we move into May, many ministry efforts in churches are winding down for the summer. 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.
This spring, how will you thank your church and school staff and volunteers for all they’re doing? 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 potentially counterproductive. Focus your attention on the positives in your program or on your staff. Do the nursery workers at your church always arrive 10–15 minutes before the service? Is your pastor always careful to keep the main thing the main thing in his sermons? Tell these people that you’ve noticed—and that you’re thankful for their wise, generous hearts
- 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 significant difference for our church (or school)?” 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 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 going in the tough times.
- Our appreciation motivates them to do better work and willingly 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 on the person’s team 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. Count and keep track to make sure you’re reaching 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.
- 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.
- Have a spontaneous ice-cream sundae or popsicle party.
- Ask skilled volunteers to recruit, orient, and mentor new volunteers.
The CTA Web site, www.ctainc.com, includes many inexpensive gifts you may find helpful in recognizing hard-working, dedicated staff and volunteers. For more ideas for encouraging others, check my blog at http://share.ctainc.com/blog/.
But don’t stop there! Share your own ideas for encouraging volunteers at http://share.ctainc.com. Jump into the conversation! We’ll all learn more when we all participate!