Some people love email while others absolutely hate it. Like me, I’m sure you lean one way or the other and it’s probably influenced by how your church uses email. Our staff uses email regularly and we expect our staff and volunteer leaders to communicate with their teams weekly or bi-weekly, usually through email.
Email can be an effective communication tool when used well. Here are 7 tips I’ve found to be helpful when communicating with volunteers over email:
Short Sentences and Short Paragraphs
Assume they want to read through your email quickly. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short to help keep your volunteers engaged. Your natural style may be to write long, run on sentences. Avoid that.
Utilize Special Headings, Like This One
If it is going to be longer, use special headings (larger font or built-in heading) in your email to break it up into logical sections. Yes, this could encourage readers to skip certain sections but it will encourage them to read what they really need.
Use an Editor and Triple-Check
Over the years I’ve learned how important it is to write well if you want to be a leader. Communication is a huge part of leadership. The fact is, not everyone does it well. Whether it’s typos, grammar mistakes, or something else that’s off, it can hurt your credibility as a leader. Everyone makes mistakes, but be sure to use an editor that will identify errors and triple-check your emails before sending them out.
Assume It’s Read on a Phone
Most people will read your emails on their smartphones. Keep that in mind when writing. An email that’s long on a computer screen will seem like a book on a phone.
Make Action Items Stand Out
Highlight items you need your volunteers to do. Yes, this may lead them to only read those items, but the alternative could be them not reading it at all. Plus, once they skim to read the action items, often times they’ll go back to read the information needed to carry out those actions.
Use MailChimp for Mass Emails
MailChimp is a great mass email service that can add a lot to your mass emails. It can make them look more professional if you choose that route. You can also make it look just like regular emails while personalizing each one with their name. My favorite part about MailChimp is the ability to see open rates, clicks on links, and other important data to know how your emails are performing.
Change It Up With Video
Our Student Pastor came up with a great idea to change up how he communicates with volunteers. He records a video of himself telling volunteers everything they need to know that week. He just uses his phone and uploads the video to Vimeo. From there he embeds the link in the email and even offers small prizes every now and then for people who watch the whole video and can answer a question about it.
There are tons of channels available for communication from text, to phone calls, to email, as well as numerous social media outlets and apps. In some cases you need to use multiple channels in order to reach everyone, but one of those channels will certainly be email.
What tips have you found to be helpful when emailing volunteers?
(please share in comments below)