Three Ways To Build Relationships When Recruiting Volunteers

Three Ways To Build Relationships When Recruiting Volunteers

recruiting volunteers

I used to really dislike recruiting volunteers. I found myself trying to avoid calling people and asking them to help at an activity. It felt like a sales pitch and a waste of time for me. And after thinking like that, having helpers at an event felt like a waste of time for them to be involved.

I had been told that it was important to give away your ministry but didn’t really understand that that meant until I found a way to think of volunteer recruitment as relationship building instead. After a few years of contacting people and asking them to help, I grew in my ability to accept rejection. I came to realize that the best responses I often got where “no”.

Here are Three Ways To Build Relationships When Recruiting Volunteers:

Abundantly fill volunteer positions

Each time YOU fill a role in your ministry area that could be done by a volunteer, you are taking away someone else’s opportunity to serve. This might be the way they connect best with the church – or with someone who comes to your church. Maybe this volunteer might have more skills in this area than you or have skills that you didn’t know about that would be extremely helpful to your ministry area or another. Try to get as many people involved as you can – this gives them an opportunity to serve and see for themselves what your ministry area is all about.  Those that belong and believe in your church or ministry area become your best spokespeople and grow your opportunity for ministry and outreach.

Look for reasons

A lot times the reason someone cannot help with an event allows you the opportunity to build trust and comfort them through challenges in their lives. When they share the reason they can’t help, they are sharing a part of themselves and their story. Take the time to appreciate this. You may learn that they have low self-esteem and are afraid of letting you down; they might have just lost a family member and are dealing with grief; maybe they are going through a divorce and custody battles are brutal. When they are sharing any reasons like these with you, they are trusting you with the a little bit of their lives. And maybe they need to say ‘no’ to this event but you have built trust and you know more about them to better connect them with a great future opportunity.

Reply to ALL phone calls

Make sure you reply with the same courtesy to all the negative responses and ‘maybe’ responses as you do the confirmed volunteers. If someone has taken the time to call you back and say they can’t help, make sure you take the time to call them and tell them ‘thanks’.  This shows you care about people and not just the position you are filling. If you ask every time but only reply to those who say ‘yes’, you will likely get few will get fewer and fewer “yes’s”.

Keep in mind that in ministry, when your goal is kingdom building you want to pour into your volunteers with as much love and energy and you want them to pour into those they are serving. That requires relationship!

What have you learned about relationship and recruiting? 

(please share in comments below)

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Lori Grasty
Children’s & Family Director / Communication Coordinator at Trinity United Methodist Church

I have been in faith based programming and marketing for 13 years. I have worked in sports ministry and recreational programming through the YMCA facilities, camping, and Upward Sports. Now I serve as the Children’s and Family director and Communication Coordinator. I have a passion for resourcing families and helping kids to feel loved and accepted. Communication and marketing is an essential element to sharing the love of Christ in our current cultural medium so I am always looking for new ways to share this consistent message of grace and compassion.


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