I’ve worked in the world of volunteer scheduling for churches for years now, both as a children’s ministry scheduler and as a tech support agent for Ministry Scheduler Pro. In my conversations with hundreds of churches worldwide, it’s become abundantly clear that there are three key steps for recruiting and organizing volunteers, and then keeping them engaged and enthusiastic about serving
- Get Organized
Volunteer scheduling is a math problem. Figure out how many volunteers you need, and how many volunteers you have. If the numbers add up, you’re golden and can get to scheduling. If you have too few volunteers, then you know you have to recruit or adjust your number of slots until you pick up momentum. If you have too many volunteers, what a blessing! Find ways to engage your volunteers that highlight their gifts and talents. There are always more things that can get done! Until you sit down and do the math on this, it will be very difficult to get a good hold on the status of your ministries and what you can do to help them grow.
This step seems intuitive, but is so often missing in church volunteer programs. It is vital to have a system for communicating what you need and allowing volunteers to get back to you. Set up expectations about communication that both you and your volunteers can reach. If it doesn’t work, adjust expectations until you find the balance that’s right for you and your team.
And, remember that the flow of communication doesn’t just lie between you and your volunteers. If you’re working with multiple schedulers or have other members of your church who want to be involved, you’ll want to coordinate with them as well. Make sure whatever scheduling and communication system you use allows your individual ministries and their leaders to fulfill the needs of their team, but also stay in contact with each other so that volunteers in multiple ministries don’t feel pulled in different directions at the same time.
- Go Digital
This was the game changer when I worked in ministry scheduling. To save time and recruit and engage volunteers, it was crucial to get schedules online and give volunteers the ability to communicate with each other, in addition to their leaders. I used Ministry Scheduler Pro to email and text volunteers when I needed, send automated reminders for when they were scheduled to serve, and – best of all – let them to find their own substitutes online. With this, I didn’t have to field all those “I can’t make it” emails every week. Game. Changer.
Also, if you are looking to harness teen volunteers, you have to connect with them on their phones. Find a system with text messaging and a mobile app and you should see a good spike in help.
Take some time to plan out how you can work on each of these steps, and you’ll be amazed at how easy ministry scheduling can be, letting you get back to the things that really count – your volunteers and the incredible work they are doing for your church community!
A quick note about Ministry Scheduler Pro (MSP) as referenced in my tips above: Ministry Scheduler Pro is a system that can help you easily schedule and connect with your volunteers. It allows volunteers to go online and submit dates and scheduling preferences. Then, schedulers can choose from a variety of options to create schedules based on the information volunteers submit. Once a schedule is complete, it can be sent to volunteers and posted online so everyone can view their personal schedule, sign up for unfilled positions, and even request substitutions online if they can’t make it. MSP integrates with ACS, so if you are using Access ACS or Parish Data System, you can easily synchronize your database with MSP.
Previously one of their favorite clients, Raina Hanson joined the team at Rotunda software in 2014. With degrees in theology and mathematics, she uses her background and experience helping churches free up time spent in administrative work to focus more on the other parts of ministry.