DIY Mailbox – Volunteer Appreciation Idea

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I finally finished a project that I have been working on for a few weeks.  I wanted to create a way for kids and parents to say thank you to the volunteers who help on Sunday mornings.  I created a mailbox, where kids can mail a thank you card.  We set up tables in an open area where parents and kids could work on making a card together.  Then, once they finished making their card, they could mail it in the mailbox.  At the end of the month, we will distribute all the thank you cards to the volunteers.  I printed off a list of all the volunteers for each room, so parents could find the names of the volunteers if they need them.  If you want to create your own mailbox, this is how you can do it:

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I went to my local used clothing/furniture store, and picked up this set of shelves.  Once I looked it over, I thought I could make a front part that would hold the “opening” where letters could be mailed.

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I own a jig saw & a sander, but that’s all.  I made a template out of poster board so that I could make any adjustments before I cut the actual wood.

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I assembled the template to make sure it would all fit together.  I took measurements, purchased the wood that I would need, and got the straight pieces of wood cut (for free) at Home Depot.  I just cut the curved pieces with my jig saw, and sanded everything down.

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Once the ‘drawer’ piece was cut and assembled using wood glue & finishing nails, I cut an opening in the front piece for the drawer to fit into.  I used 4 tiny hinges to attach the drawer to the front panel.

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I tested it out to make sure it would fit.  I sanded down the sides a little more so the drawer would open & close easily.  Before I attached the front panel to the shelves, I painted everything with 2 coats of paint.  I decided it would be easier to paint it before it was assembled.

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Once the paint was dry, I attached the front panel with screws.  I also attached the handle, and a sign holder from Staples.  I decided a to use a sign holder so I could change out the sign to use the mailbox for different projects.  I attached a larger piece of wood with hinges for the back, and used sticky velcro to keep it closed.

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I set up tables with cards, markers & instructions.  I found printable thank you cards from My Sister’s Suitcase blog.  You can download them for free HERE.

We will leave the supplies on the tables for all the Sundays in May, so families can have plenty of opportunity to participate.

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Once they finish making a card, they can put it in an envelope that is provided, write the volunteer’s name on the front, and mail it in the mailbox.

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So far, the mailbox has been very popular.  It’s a way for families to show their appreciation to the volunteers who serve their kids so faithfully.  At the end of May, we will collect all the cards, and distribute them to all the volunteers, making sure that each volunteer gets at least one.

 

Changing Curriculum? How To Transition Your Volunteers To Something New.

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Change is usually pretty difficult for most people.  If you are thinking of trying something new when it comes to lessons in your kids ministry, it’s probably a good idea to help your volunteers process the change.  Here are some things I learned along the journey of transitioning my team to a new curriculum.

  1.  Do your research.  Before you decide to make the change, find out what your volunteers like about your current curriculum, and what is not working.  Then research what options could potentially solve some of your challenges, or take your kids ministry to a new level.
  2. Decide on your budget.  There are some really great FREE options out there that are worth investigating.  Life Church’s Kids Curriculum, Crossroads Kids Club, NewSpring Church and Kids Kount Publishing are some great FREE options.  If you have some $$ to spend, then there are many options available.  When I transitioned my team of 200 volunteers, we switched to The Gospel Project for Kids.
  3. Communicate.  You can never over communicate.  Email short emails.  Send volunteers little bits of info at a time.  Send them sample videos.  Send them a sample lesson.  Let them know some of the benefits the new curriculum will bring.
  4. Invite them to a meeting.  Invite your key leaders or teachers to come to see and hear about the new curriculum.  Have samples printed off, and outline what changes will be taking place.
  5. Take the new Curriculum on a Test Drive.  Tell your volunteers that you are going to try something new.  They might be more open to a ‘test drive’ than a big change that is set in stone.  Try it out for a few months, and then decide if you are going to keep going with the new curriculum.
  6. Ask for Feedback.  Ask how things are going.  Tweak things along the way that need tweaking.  Listen to your volunteers to see if the new curriculum will be helpful or you need to go back to the drawing board.

How Gru (from Dispicable Me) can teach your Small Group Leaders how to “OWN” their role instead of “RENT” it

despicable-me-GruGetting volunteers to “OWN” their ministry can sometimes be difficult.  Sue Miller & Adam Duckworth talk about this in one of the chapters in their book, “Not Normal” which can be found here:
http://www.amazon.com/Not-Normal-Quirks-Incredible-Volunteers/dp/1941259154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435792421&sr=8-1&keywords=not+normal+sue+miller

Basically, it’s about caring more about what they do.  It’s about doing the best they can possibly do, for the maximum impact.

WingClips is a website that takes clips from movies, and categorizes them by theme.  This is helpful when looking for a video clip to illustrate a point.  On this website, there are two clips from “Despicable Me”.

Clip #1http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/despicable-me/sleepy-kittens

Gru reads a bedtime story to the 3 girls who come to live with him.  He basically doesnt’ want to read it to them, but he agrees to read it, just to get them to stop bothering him.

Clip #2http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/despicable-me/changed-his-heart

Gru has had a change of heart.  The children have had an impact on him that he wasn’t expecting.  He has grown to love them.  This time he reads a bedtime story to them with a whole new attitude.  It’s a story that he wrote himself and shows how much his heart has changed towards them.

These two clips are a great illustration of the difference in the approach a Small Group Leader can choose to take.  One approach is basically doing the job to get it done.  The other shows what can happen when a leader takes the time to care for their kids.  Both the kids & the leader are changed.

Many thanks to one of my amazing volunteers on my kids ministry team who came up with this idea.  Way to go Anne!

Are Your Volunteers Going in Circles?

Concentric Circles for Volunteers

When I think of volunteers, this is the picture that I have in my head.  Volunteers are in different stages.  Some are new, or come occasionally while others are the committed people that do the majority of the work.  As I look at these circles, here are some thoughts:

1.  Always be recruiting to your outer circle.  Ask people to be helpers.  Ask them to help with admin work, or organizing stuff.  Ask them to help with shopping for supplies.  Ask them to help at special events.  Ask them to help as fill-ins or floaters.  Ask them to serve once a month.  When you find you have only a few leaders, and can’t think of anyone to ask to fill leadership roles, it is probably because you haven’t been recruiting to your outer circle on a regular basis.

2.  People need to spend time in the outer circles before moving towards the inner circle.  It gives you time to get to know them, and find out what they are passionate about or what they are gifted at doing.  It also gives them time to learn about your culture & what you value in your ministry.

3.  Help volunteers move towards the inner circle.  Help irregular volunteers become regular volunteers by providing opportunities that will fit their passions, gifts & availability.  Help regular volunteers become leaders by showing them how their influence can be multiplied as they lead a team of people.

4.  To help people move towards the inner circle, you will need to personally ask them.  Go for coffee with them, share your vision & help them see how the shift towards the middle will be a win/win for them & for the people they are serving.

5.  Spend time with your inner circle.  Encourage them & appreciate them.  Motivate them & challenge them.  Invest in them.  Take them to conferences & visit other churches to help them grow.  Remind them why we do what we do.

DIY Volunteer Board

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I am always on the look out for new ways to remind my volunteers how thankful we are for each of them.  Recently, I created this board to help encourage them & celebrate the wins.  It includes the following:

  • a spot to post a notice about the free giveaway for that day
  • 3 spots to share success stories & thank you messages
  • photo wall – volunteers love to see other volunteers in action
  • a spot to post volunteer quotes & Bible verses
  • a spot for announcements or special messages

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I picked up the denim themed stuff from Michaels for 50% off.
The background fabric was from a fabric store.

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I keep a file of success stories & thank you’s that I can pull from to post on the wall.

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I take pictures with my phone almost every week of volunteers in action so that I have lots to chose from.
Printing them on the photocopier & cutting them to look like Polaroids are oh so cute!
Tiny clothes pins are also from Michaels.

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I created these chalkboard drawings by downloading free fonts & chalkboard graphics.  Check out Pinterest for ideas.

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I bought the hanging chalkboards from the dollar store.

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Look for people in your church who can donate things to give to your volunteers.
It helps keep the cost down of saying thank you.

Kids Ministry Volunteer Training Book – Free Download

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Every year we have a volunteer training event in September.  We review the safety stuff as well as the vision and values.  It’s a chance for new volunteers to learn the basics and returning volunteers to be reminded about why we do what we do.

Volunteer Training Manuals can be boring to read.  We decided it was important to work on making it look interesting so that it was easy to read.  Here is the link to our Volunteer Training Book.  You can download a copy and use it as a sample to create your own volunteer training book.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4qifCmSLEUWdGpWZzQ1M3hjeVE/view?usp=sharing

What to include in your training event

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This weekend we had our annual Kids Ministry Volunteer Training Event.  Here’s what we did:

Promotion – Start months ahead with a few “save the date” emails.  Then 3 weeks before the event, send emails weekly, and get your leaders from each room to email their teams of volunteers.  Put posters of the event up in kids ministry spaces.  Get people to sign up online.

Theme – Choose a theme that is fun!  This year we went with a Transformers theme and focused on moving beyond Supervision (of kids) to Transformation (in their lives)

Set up – Have the room decorated, set up & stuff on people’s chairs like training manuals & chocolates when they arrive.  The first impression when they arrive will be a great one if you have everything ready to go & you pay attention to detail.

Food – Definitely include food.  It’s even better if you can get your food to match your theme!

Fun – Include a game or event that is just plain fun.  Because we had a transformers theme, 5 volunteers had to try to transform the transformer toy from a robot into a vehicle.  Game music & cheering help to bring energy to the game.

Prizes – Door prizes are a great way to go.  People love to win things.  Get as many as your budget will allow.  Ask for donations if you have a limited budget.

Have people talk other than you – We had a discussion panel of volunteers.  I sent them questions ahead of time so they were prepared with their answers.  It was so great to have them talk about stuff that I usually say.  It was very powerful coming from them.

Power Point & Video – Keep things visual whenever possible.  Media helps to keep people’s attention.  Video clips bring variety and can help drive your point home.  I used a video clip of Bill Hybels, “Coffee with God“.  It helped to illustrate about the life transformation that can happen when you spend time with God.

Motivation Talk – Remind people why we do what we do.  Tell stories.  Show videos.

Neighbour discussion – To help break up a longer time of “sit and listen”, have volunteers turn to their neighbour & tell each other one thing they just learned from what was just talked about.

Take Home – Have them write down (on a card that you make ahead of time) one thing they can do to improve what they are doing & tell them to take it home & put it in a place where they will see it on a regular basis to remind them.

Appreciation Video – a few weeks before the event get video footage of as many volunteers in action as possible.  Edit it together & add some music & play it at the end of your main session.

Breakout Groups – Give people a chance to chat about their own area of ministry with their team.  The last hour of our training event is spent in ministry specific groups all over our building.  They chat about things that are specific to where they serve.