15 Easy Ways to Show Appreciation for Your Volunteers

The church is primarily comprised of volunteers, and may well be the single largest “volunteer” army on the planet. Christians are called to serve Christ by being his Church. Each one of us has a role to play as part of the body.

Church staff ministry roles are all about helping each person in the church succeed in serving effectively where God has placed them. In a sense, the word “volunteer” doesn’t do these roles justice. It’s true that these folks are serving without pay, but they are doing much more than donating hours. They are using their gifts to accomplish the Great Commission in the world.

Church staff leaders: Don’t forget to appreciate their work. You have an ongoing obligation to encourage and support them.

A simple definition of appreciation is to recognize the full worth of.  How can you appreciate your volunteers? Here are fifteen ideas:

1. Give Them The Big Picture

Volunteers are often playing a small part in a bigger picture. Help them see how important their role is and what they are accomplishing.

2. Give Them Access To You

Volunteers will feel more appreciated when they are granted access to you through emails, texts, and phone calls. Respond to them as quickly as possible.

3. Provide What They Need To Get The Job Done

Do your best to provide the best possible equipment and supplies for your volunteer teams.

4. Invest In A Regular Meeting Time

Build into the framework of your schedule a one-on-one meeting or phone call with a member of your volunteer team each month or year. Depending on the size of your team, this may be in a group setting. You can also break larger teams down into smaller teams with their own leaders and encourage those teams to meet.

5. Check In With Them

As often as you can, check in with your team while they are serving. For example: “Need any help?” “Are things going okay for you?” “How was the trip?”  “We’re glad you are back!”

6. Highlight Your Volunteers In Publications Or The Website

Feature stories about your volunteer team in the church newsletter, on your blog, or on the website. Tag your team in your Facebook post after a big event. Highlight your team publicly. One great way to help your volunteers feel appreciated is to let them know that you know they are there, serving each week.  [Read more: How To Get Outstanding Performance From Your Church Staff]

7. Give Small Tokens Of Gratitude

You can make an impact with a small investment. Every once in a while, send your volunteer team members a gift card or other small token of appreciation. [Here are ideas for “paying” your volunteer team.]

“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.”

— Helen Keller

8. Have Food Available

Food is always a great way to say thanks. Be sure to have coffee for your early morning teams.

9. Host Regular Community Events And Parties

Most often, volunteer teams are “present and serving” with little time for chit-chat, conversations, or planning. You can encourage your team by organizing, at least a couple times per year, events and parties focused on belonging, community, and connection.

10. Forward “Thank You” Emails

One great way to keep encouraging volunteers is to pass on the thanks and praise you may receive from others. If you get an email or card, pass it along to the group. I recently received a card from someone thanking one of our teams. I scanned it and emailed it to everyone in the group. It’s nice to read emails that don’t require any action.

11. Get T-shirts

I recently visited a church where the entire greeter and hospitality team wore matching t-shirts that said, “Hello There” in big letters.  It was easy to spot those in leadership. [T-shirts always help provide a sense of belonging.]

12. Create “Seasons” Of Service

Make it easy for people to serve for a season, then shift gears if needed. Even the most faithful leaders don’t want to feel locked into perpetual service with no end in sight. Some volunteer roles structure time off each year.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

13. Celebrate New Volunteers

Send an email introducing the new volunteer, post their picture, write a blog post, or introduce them at the next meeting. We have created a tradition of introducing new band members the first Sunday they serve in leading worship.

14. Brag On Your Team Publicly

Sometimes I create ballpark statistics and post them in a newsletter how many miles of cables a sound team has wrapped; how many pounds of food or cups of coffee a hospitality team has prepared; or how many hours a team has served collectively. The figures are big and probably close to correct. Brag on your team to others. Give God praise for your ministry leaders.

15. Keep Them In The Loop

If you have a big announcement, tell your volunteers early. If you are changing the schedule or shifting times for something, let your volunteers know in advance.

Some time ago, I wrote a little E-Book called The Six Best Practices for Motivating Volunteers. You can pick up a copy here for free.

I write with church leaders in mind and I would be honored to have you join me by subscribing to the blog. You can take a look at the top posts here. The posts are categorized: pastors, worship leaders, student ministry and kids ministry. In case we’re just meeting, here’s little about my life.

Other Posts:

12 Steps To Raising Up Volunteers

How To Build An Ongoing Volunteer Recruitment….

Develop Your Volunteer Team For A New Year

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