8 Ways to Show Value to Volunteers
We asked two seasoned youth workers to share how they show value to volunteers, and here’s what they had to say:
Having a healthy youth ministry doesn’t happen without a great team of adult volunteers. Youth pastors who desire to lead a healthy youth ministry will need to not only recruit and train adult volunteers but also show value to volunteers. It’s easy to forget this piece of leading volunteers; I have been guilty of overlooking this area more times than I would like to admit. However, I have stumbled upon some best practices that I believe can help us in this area.
#1 Make a plan and stick to it
The first best practice is to simply make a plan and stick to it. There is no “one-size-fits-all plan” when it comes to how we show value to volunteers. Every youth pastor will have to work out their own plan for their ministry. In our weekly student ministry staff meeting, we all send texts to a few of our adult volunteers. We simply tell them, “Thank you for serving in our ministry.” We usually do this for two volunteers each week so we easily work through all our volunteers by the end of the school year. That’s our plan, what will yours be? Whenever you get a plan, be sure to put things in place to help you follow through with that plan. Make it a recurring event on your calendar if you must. Whatever it is, stick to your plan for valuing your volunteers.
#2 Don’t overlook the power of handwritten notes
I wish this one wasn’t even a best practice. As a someone who grew up in the internet generation, I don’t enjoy writing handwritten notes. However, I have learned that a handwritten note to one my volunteers will go much further in valuing them than an email or text. Don’t throw emails and texts out the window, but be sure to mix in handwritten notes within your plan. It’s important and your adult volunteers will enjoy receiving a note that you took the time to sit down and write with your own hand.
#3 Make room in your budget for it
Valuing your adult volunteers usually doesn’t cost a lot, so making a little extra room in your yearly budget to treat your adult volunteers is a good idea. Each year, we carve out cash in our student ministry budget for a few things: a gift card to their favorite restaurant at the start of the school year, a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop for Christmas, and an end-of-the-school-year appreciation lunch. Additionally, we make room in our budget to take them out to lunch for one-on-one meetings throughout the year.
#4 Public Recognition
Valuing your adult volunteers is something you need to do both in private and in public. Texts, emails, and handwritten notes are awesome, but don’t neglect going public to show your adult volunteers that you care. Create a “volunteer of the week” post on social media or in your periodic parent emails. We have a “leader spotlight” during our middle school gatherings where we interview one of our volunteers on stage. That way, our students see how much we appreciate their leaders and get to know their leaders in a fun way.
These are just a few best practices for ways to show value to volunteers. Whatever you decide to do, just start doing it and don’t stop! Don’t wait until you have a perfect plan or until you get more volunteers. Apply these best practices now with whatever team God has given you.
“We have a ‘leader spotlight’ during our middle school gatherings where we interview one of our volunteers on stage. That way, our students see how much we appreciate their leaders and get to know their leaders in a fun way.
In twenty-six years of ministry, I have been able to serve in two churches. In both cases, I had no ministry team, no volunteers, at the start. I quickly learned that I could not do it alone. To successfully minister to our students, I needed a team. Once I built a team, I also saw that serving on our little team built great friendships and, in some cases, was the “glue” that kept someone connected to our church. We need adult volunteers, and we need to show value to volunteers.
Here are some of my ideas on letting adult volunteers know that they are appreciated and valued in our ministry.
#5 Private Recognition
When you see an adult volunteer do something awesome in student ministry, make sure to recognize it. “I saw you connect with Billy during Hang Time and eat some pizza and have a conversation with him. Thanks for doing that. I know he’s been struggling with his parents’ divorce. You made a difference in his life tonight.” If someone regularly took the time to recognize what you did in ministry, how would that make you feel?
Do you know your adult volunteers’ birthdays and anniversaries? Celebrate with them! Send a birthday card. Give them a gift card to a nice restaurant they can use towards their anniversary dinner. Celebrate with them when their child is born. Look for those opportunities to celebrate them individually but also look for opportunities to celebrate big moments in student ministry together as a team. What can you do to have fun together as a team?
Simple gifts mean a lot. The more you get to know someone on your team the more you learn about what they like. Look for opportunities to give your volunteers some gifts. At our annual student ministry team retreat—which is a gift in and of itself—we give each team member a personalized swag bag. You don’t have to blow the bank or budget on this, I purchased all the items for our swag bags at a dollar store. What gifts can you give to your team?
One of the best ways to show value to an adult volunteer is to place them in a position on your team that fits who they are. Helping our volunteers discover how God has shaped them to serve and then leading them to discover their spot on the team is huge. How often have we plugged a square peg in a round hole, only for that volunteer to “burnt out” because they were serving in a place that wasn’t a fit? If you want volunteers to thrive on a team, then place them in a position where they are set up for success.
LeaderTreks has a great tool, The Sweet Spot, that helps you help your volunteers discover their place in ministry.
Finding great adult volunteers is no easy task. Taking steps to make sure they feel valued can help keep those great volunteers on your team. Building a ministry that values the volunteers can be a magnet to attract future volunteers.
What steps are you going to take this week to show value to volunteers?
About the Author
The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry… Read More