There are many factors to volunteer motivation, including vision, mission, invitation, success, ownership, connection, belonging and satisfaction. This post is on connection and belonging as a motivator.
Belonging is a powerful force. For most people in your church, the question isn’t if they will belong – it’s where? People will spend their days doing things they consider worthwhile. And if they don’t find a place to use their time and gifts in the church, they will find a place to use it somewhere.
How can we help fill the need to belong for our volunteers?
Keep people informed – through emails, texts, conversations and updates, keep your people in the loop. Let them know what is coming up. You don’t want them to hear something that is happening through another source. Key leaders need to be the first to know.
Invest in them – What can you offer in the way of training and equipping? How are you helping them grow in their niche of ministry or service?
Special incentives and perks – Though it’s not the reason they volunteer, it’s always nice to receive something in return. A freebie, a gift certificate, have their lunch bought, etc. Thank your volunteers in tangible ways. Another way is to make things as easy on them as possible.
An event just for them – Say thanks with a special event just for them. Having a dinner or other event for your volunteers to say thanks is awesome. If it’s a smaller group, this can be done in your home. If it’s a large group, you can utilize your church, restaurant or other location. It can be as simple as a meal or you can get entertainment / speaker for the occasion.
Care and concern – Care for your volunteer is crucial. In addition to accomplishing the task, getting to know them, spending a few minutes talking with them, and caring for needs is at the heart of belonging. They don’t just help you get something done, they are part of your life and you are part of theirs. Have genuine concern for them. Take time to listen to their stories and their issues.
Sacrifice efficiency, at least initially – Spend time pulling new people in. Give them the vision and scope of ministry. Walk with them and talk. There are times when getting someone connected to the group is more effective in the long run that getting the job done. Take time to get connected no matter how task focused you might be. If a new person shows interest in serving, introduce them and get them plugged in. It may seem like you are taking a step backwards, but in the long run, your volunteer team will be stronger.
Invest in team identity – You never waste a dollar invested in team identify. Hats, t-shirts, backpacks, mugs, or any number of things can help people feel like they belong and are connected. Most volunteer teams will even be willing to purchase items that connect them. One free idea is to include the names of your volunteers on the letterhead you use to communicate with them. Another aspect of team identity is language – nicknames, abbreviations, inside jokes all help give a team identity.