Book Review: The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams

DaleHudsonBook

This book has moved into the position of “Top 5 Must Have” books for Kids Ministry.  It is LOADED with information.

My friend Dale Hudson is the author of this amazing book.  This guy has tons of Kids Ministry Experience and really knows his stuff when it comes to kids, volunteers, recruiting, training and motivating.  His blog is loaded with resources and ideas on many different kids ministry related topics.  He has a humble spirit and an amazing servant’s heart.  I have visited the church many times where he was on staff as the Kids Ministry Director and my kids loved being in the kids program there.  He is an international conference speaker and trainer, and I have learned so much from this guy and his experience.  He is the author of several kids ministry books, and his most recent, The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams is one of my favourites.

Recruiting, training and motivating kids ministry volunteers is top priority when it comes to kids ministry.  The job is never complete.  New people come and go and we are always challenging our volunteers to go to a new level.  In his book, Dale talks about proven methods that work when it comes to recruiting volunteers.  He reminds us that people are drawn to vision, not desperation.  He walks us through a process to train volunteers, and to encourage them while they are serving so that they want to stay.  In this book, Dale gives practical ideas.  I like books that give you a how-to formula, and this book does just that!

Here are some of my favourite quotes from his book:

“The journey of ___ volunteers begins with one ask.”

“As a leader, your role is to be a coach to your volunteers.  As their coach, you are to develop them, bring out the best in them, empower them and release them to do ministry.”

“Invite to the WHY over the WHAT”

“How long people serve is in direct correlation to the depth of the relationships that they form with the people they serve with.”

“Encourage is how you keep volunteers motivated and excited about serving.”

DaleHudsonBook2.jpg

I wrote notes, highlighted and flagged great stuff throughout this book!  I pull it off my shelf regularly and have made a to do list from the things that I have learned in this book that will help take kids ministry at our church to the next level.  It has given me ideas for recruiting, training and keeping volunteers.  I have ordered this book and given a copy to each of my kids ministry staff and volunteer leaders.

Version 2

Dale has written other books which include:

If Disney Ran Your Children’s Ministry

Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children’s Ministry

Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Preschool Ministry

I am not being paid to endorse this book, so you know that it’s really good if I am not benefiting from telling you about it.  However, it will benefit you and your kids ministry if you order his book today!

 

 

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Finding & Keeping Volunteers – Workshop PowerPoint Slides

FindingandKeepingVolunteers

I have taught several workshops/classes on how to find & keep volunteers.  Here is a PowerPoint Presentation that I used at a recent event. (link at end of page)

When it comes to Recruiting Volunteers, here are few ideas:

Strategy – Write down the positions you need.  Then make a list of all the people you can think of to ask.  This is where people get stumped.  Sometimes you can’t think of anyone to ask, or all the people you have asked have graciously declined.  So now what?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Pray.  Ask God to give you names of people to ask.
  • Connect with other people.  So maybe you don’t know who to ask, but you can ask other people to help you come up with names.  Ask another pastor or leader.  Ask the person who leads the ladies or men’s group.  Ask the person who leads the youth group.  You get the idea.
  • Go to events to meet new people.  Go to the outreach events.  Go to the Christmas Events.  Be a greeter at the door for a Sunday morning or two.

Raise the Awareness – Tell the story about your ministry.  Tell the good things!  No one wants to be part of a sinking ship.  Of course there are going to be things that are less than ideal about your ministry, but you need to tell the story of things that are going well, and lives that are being changed.  Make a video, post pics, make a display in a high traffic area at your church.  You can see an example of a video that we made for our Special Friends Ministry here.

Ask – Many people who recruit volunteers will tell you that the most effective way to get volunteers is to personally ask people!  That can be done in person, via email or a phone call.  The key is to call someone by name and ask if they would be interested in helping with a specific role. (vs. hello parents, please help us)

You Get What You Ask For – Instead of asking people, “How often can you help?”  Ask them if every week or every other week will work better for them.  It gives them some options, and it gives you the commitment that you need.  If you are just asking people to help once a month, they are not there often enough to reap the rewards of volunteering.  They will probably not see life change in the kids they are helping with, and they will almost always be less invested and treat their role more like “let’s just get this over with” instead of “how can we make this hour be the best it can possibly be while I am volunteering here with them”.  And, if you are asking for people to help once a month, you are going to need 4x the number of volunteers.  If you are already short on volunteers, why multiply the number of people that you need?

Have a Back Up Plan – So you have personally asked someone to help you, and they tell you that they are not able to do what you are asking.  What are the things that are stopping them?  Not the right role?  Not the right time?  Not what they love to do?  Then have a back up plan.  If they can’t do the thing you are asking them to do, would they consider a different role?  Maybe they can help with admin prep or photocopying.  Maybe they can check references for you.  Maybe they can be a substitute helper on call.  If you do your homework before you ask the person, there is probably something that would work for them.  It gets them to see the bigger picture of your ministry & maybe they would be willing to move to a more committed role in the future.

Hopefully these ideas will help you on your journey to finding volunteers.  And remember, it’s a journey.  Constantly recruit.  It’s not a one time event!

You can view the PowerPoint Presentation here.

 

 

Kids with Special Needs Ministry – Recruiting Video

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Special Friends is the name of the ministry that we have at our church for a one-on-one buddy system for children with special needs.  This fall we have an increased number of children with special needs.  We want to do everything we can to help them learn in a way that works the best for them while they are in our Kids Program.  Their Special Friend connects with them & builds a relationship with them like no other volunteer in our Kids Ministry.  I love seeing the Special Friends Teams together!

We created a video to help raise awareness about our Special Friends Program at our church.  Hopefully people will realize the huge impact a Special Friend has on a child.  We are showing this video in our Sunday Morning service & then will share it on social media.  You can view the video we made here:

Whether you are creating a recruiting video for special needs or another ministry in your church, you should include the following:

  1.  Real people.  People want to hear about things that are actually happening in the lives of real people.  That’s why reality TV is so popular in our culture.
  2. Tell a story.  Tell about the challenges the person is facing & the impact the ministry is having on them.
  3. The difference.  Tell about the difference in their lives.  Without this ministry, this family’s life would be drastically different.
  4. Ask for help.  Once you tell the story, ask people to come and be a part of making a difference, so that more lives can be impacted.
  5. Next step.  Provide a way for people to respond.  A website, an email or a contact person.

With an Iphone and movie editing software, you can create a recruiting video that will tell the story of the ministry you want to highlight.

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.

3 Weeks of Recruiting Ideas

Thinking-Outside-the-Box

Sometimes when it comes to recruiting volunteers, you need to think outside the box.  Bulletin announcements & mass emails are just not working.

That’s when you do a BIG Recruiting Event.  Here are some things that we did to make our Recruiting Event Successful:

1.  Make your events BIG!  You need to do things that will catch people’s attention and get them to notice you.

2.  Be visual!  Make a display & use media, posters or stuff to show people what you need.

3.  Show people that Kids Ministry is FUN!  Give them a taste of what you do in your program.

4.  Do more than one Sunday.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Families do not necessarily come to church every week so you need to have your BIG recruiting event take place over multiple Sundays.

5.  Be prepared with sign up sheets, applications & police check forms.  Get people’s contact info (email) so that you can connect with them.  Don’t leave it up to them to connect with you.  They probably won’t.

We did 3 Sundays and this is what we did:

Week 1: (yes, all of this happened during the Sunday morning)

  • Video Announcement on the big screens in the main auditorium during the service.
  • Bulletin announcement – casting vision about what a difference volunteers make in the lives of kids
  • Flyer in the bulletin
  • Kiosk in atrium in high traffic area for people to sign up
  • Person (Kids pastor or other highly invested leaders) at the kiosk to personally talk with people
  • sign up sheets  with 3 options to choose from (summer help, vbs help or help in the fall)
  • TV with power point presentation running.  These slides included volunteers in action & titles of positions where we needed help
  • Music.  It’s gotta be upbeat & fun.  We played the instrumental version of the LEGO movie.  Everything was awesome!
  • BUBBLE MACHINE (see picture below) – this definitely caught people’s attention and created an element of fun.  It attracted a crowd of kids who wanted to catch the bubbles & the adults had to walk through the tornado of bubbles on their way out after the service.

Week 2:

  • Kids wearing posterboards with signs.  (see picture below) 5 kids walked around places that were populated with people with sandwich board signs on their front & back.  Many people commented on how effective these were.
  • Power Puppet (we purchased this from Little Mountain Productions).  We only bring this out for special occasions and this was one of them.  The puppet basically said things like, “we need your help”  “sign up today to help with the kids”.  You can see a video of this in action here:  http://www.powerpuppets.com/
  • Kiosk in atrium in high traffic area for people to sign up
  • Person (Kids pastor or other highly invested leaders) at the kiosk to personally talk with people
  • sign up sheets  with 3 options to choose from (summer help, vbs help or help in the fall)

Week 3:

  • Kids wearing sandwich signs again.  Once again, very effective.
  • Dance Party – we had flashing colourful lights & a projector with Kids Worship DVDs.  I will admit this wasn’t as big of a WOW factor as we were hoping, as our atrium has a lot of windows and it was a beautiful sunny day.  Dance party lights & projectors work much better in a darker room.  FYI.  However, we played the DVD on a large screen TV, cranked the volume, and people noticed the great music so that helped to catch their attention.
  • Kiosk in atrium in high traffic area for people to sign up
  • Person (Kids pastor or other highly invested leaders) at the kiosk to personally talk with people
  • sign up sheets  with 3 options to choose from (summer help, vbs help or help in the fall)

Here are some pictures that we took of our Big Recruiting Event over 3 weeks

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How to decrease volunteer turnover

EmployeeEngagement

Look what came in the mail today!  I love reading books on leadership, especially ones that are related to Disney.

Employee Engagement was written by Pete Blank who was a cast member at Walt Disney World.  He shares his knowledge & experiences from working at Disney, specifically on the topic of keeping employees engaged.  In the first chapter, he talks about 4 reasons why people work and stay in their jobs.  I think the same principles apply to volunteering in kids ministry.

They like the job – These people like to do the role they are doing.  They are wired to do it and simply love doing what they are doing.
Look for people to serve in areas of their passion.  If you find the role to fit the person, they will stay serving because they are doing what they love to do.

They like the organization – These people believe in the organization.  They may volunteer in your church because they believe in it and are willing to do what it takes to see ministry happen.
Look for people who have been around for many years.  Different stages of life bring about different serving options.  Perhaps people who are retired now have time to invest in the next generation.

They like the boss – These people are connected to the leader.  They like how they lead, the friendship & the overall benefits of interacting with the leader.
Connect with people outside of kids ministry.  The friends you make will probably want to help you in kids ministry because they have connected with you.

They like the people they work with – These people like to be with their team!  Volunteers in these roles have a sense of community with the people they serve with.
Be intentional about placing people on teams where they can connect.  Put young adults with young adults.  Put families with young children with families with young children.  They will probably have a lot in common and will become friends.  Friends like to serve with their friends.

If you work on these 4 areas, chances are you will have less turn over and your volunteers will stick around.

 

 

 

How to find Kids Ministry Leaders

next-level

Finding leaders can be challenging.  Usually it takes time for you to find people who are willing to serve at the leadership level.  So how does this happen?

Almost all of my leaders have come from serving faithfully in kids ministry rooms, and I have asked them if they would consider being at the leadership level. Going from a new volunteer to a leadership role usually happens one step at a time.  Let’s take a look at the process:

Step 1 – This type of volunteer is new to volunteering.  They probably volunteer in a ‘helper’ role with very little responsibility.  Start small and don’t overwhelm them.  It’s important to get these volunteers connected with a more experienced volunteer who they can build a relationship with, and see the benefits of volunteering on a regular basis at a higher level of leadership.

Step 2 – Increase the level of frequency.  When people volunteer on a regular basis, they can see the results faster.  They build relationships with kids faster & get to know them better.   They begin to see the results of their investment in the kids lives.

Step 3 – Increase the level of responsibility.  Once they have had some time to see various roles in action & they have time to learn the culture of the ministry they are involved in, they may be willing to do a little more to help the team.

Step 4 – Invite them to be a leader.  Meet personally with the volunteer & cast the vision of why you think this person would make a great leader.  Highlight the benefits of leading & the impact it will make on their life.