Volunteer Motivator: Ownership

There are many factors to volunteer motivation, including vision, mission, invitation, success, ownership, connection, belonging and satisfaction.  This post is on ownership as a motivator.

We ultimately want the volunteers in our ministries and organization to take ownership.  Once they have grasped the vision and possibility for impact through their role, then they are hooked, committed and invested.  Ownership allows for the volunteer to dream about ways to grow and be effective in the ministry, they naturally think about others who can assist them, and they are self motivated and take initiative.

In order to move volunteers from obligation or opportunity to ownership a few things must be in place:

A confident, secure leader – It takes a confident, secure, and visionary leader to help volunteers truly take on ownership.  There is a substantial level of trust and risk involved.  A wise leader knows that volunteer ownership will increase their impact and effectiveness.  An immature leader will see ownership as competition.

A well communicated vision – What is the end picture or end result of having volunteers?  What is the ultimate goal?  This will help you understand what is needed and how people can take part in it.

Clarified frameworks and job descriptions – Clarification of volunteer roles is huge! Frameworks and systems for how volunteers get plugged in all the way to how you keep them in the loop, connected and thanked is all a huge part.  Do your people know what they need to do?

A structure and culture of freedom – There needs to be freedom for volunteers to serve, create and develop.  Most of that freedom, ironically, comes from planning in advance, giving volunteers time to be creative, and getting basic systems in place so that weekly obligations are accomplished in an effective manner.  This key ingredient of planning ahead also allows for freedom in dreaming big dreams for the future.

High standards – The best time to place high standards on volunteer roles is before there is a need to.  Develop a list of the qualities, attributes and attitudes you want in your team members and in the ministry roles that are needed. What are the expectations.  Set them clearly and work toward becoming a person who is comfortable with criticism – both in giving and receiving – that will be helpful in building up the church or organization.

Grace and gratitude – Volunteer teams are very fluid.  It’s almost guaranteed to change any given season.  Team members, just by the nature of the own schedules and lives, run into different issues regarding their volunteer roles.  We need to have grace for them.  And we need to be thankful for them.

Any others you would add?  Any thoughts about owners in your ministry?


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