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How Do You Thank Your Volunteers?

 —  November 20, 2012 — 4 Comments

I’m sure you love most if not all of your volunteer ministers.  Face it, they give up their time and energy to help you, walk with teens and serve the Lord.  What isn’t there to like about them?  In fact if we were to sit down over coffee (Your buying), you would have some amazing stories to share about how you see God working through them.  Bottom line: MINISTERS ARE IMPORTANT

Since you can’t do what you need or want to do with out your volunteer team it’s imperative that you show them YOUR APPRECIATION.  While they might not be on your Christmas list this year, you need to make sure that they are thanked and celebrated.  So, what does that mean?  How does thanking and rewarding your volunteer ministers look like?

Sometimes there is an internal push back to thanking our ministers because you can’t afford it or there are just too many to track.  Again, you might be gracious for all that they do; however, unexpressed gratitude isn’t really true gratitude at all.  If you feel that gratitude isn’t a natural habit of yours, than consider these three tips:

Free Goes Far – Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that take little money; but, lots of thought.  If all you are receiving in your mailbox these days is junk mail, you know how incredible it is to receive a handwritten note or card from a loved one.  Next time you want to thank a volunteer take a minute or two to write out a card and mail it to them.  Even if your only note is, “Thank You” it will go a long way.  If you receive an email from a parent or a student that talks about how that volunteer has impacted their life, print it out and stick it in the card.  It will show your ministers that not only do you appreciate them; but, so do the people they serve.

Praise Them Publicly – Brag on your team.  Whether it’s in front of the congregation at your church, or to one of their family members, let them know how proud of them you are.  It might be a little embarrassing for them; however, when you praise someone publicly, it rallies a crowd behind them.  They go from joe-minister to “BIG TIME” volunteer instantly.  Let them know that they can be proud of themselves.

Do For One Even If You Can’t Do For All - There are going to be times when you have the opportunity to spoil at least one of your volunteers.  Maybe someone gave you an Ipad to give away, tickets to the ball game or money to spend.  This is your opportunity to find someone in your ministry to praise.  Then comes that voice, “If you can’t do for all, don’t do it for anyone.” that holds you back from expressing your gratitude.  You’ve been taught to treat others fairly; however, you risk depriving someone of the accolades that they deserve.  When you can do for one what you can’t do for all, you aren’t showing partiality.  Instead you are showing the individual how much you appreciate them.  Too many times when you give something to everyone, it looks formal and insincere.  This is taking opportunity of a blessing you received to pass it on and show someone else that they are blessed too.

There are many ways to thank your volunteers, and how you thank them is going to depend on who they are, and what you have to give.  The important thing is to always think outside of the box.  Let others know how important your team is to you and pour out the appreciation.

How do you thank your volunteers?

Chris (Twitter)

Chris Wesley

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4 responses to How Do You Thank Your Volunteers?

  1. our Senior Pastor says, “all volunteers get paid.” how do we pay them when we don’t have a budget to give them $$$$?
    RECOGNITION – mention names in church newsletters, bulletins, or up front during announcements
    APPRECIATION – Starbucks cards go far here in the Pacific Northwest!
    TIME OFF – recognize their need for breaks
    EMPOWER – often times we ask people to help, or give them responsibilities, but we don’t give them power. for example, i ask my small group leaders to commit to their group of students. they are empowered to learn about what works and doesn’t work in leading discussion in their group. i stay out of this. we troubleshoot together from time to time and we communicate weekly, but they have POWER to make changes to the questions i’ve developed, find a space that works for their group, and even move kids around if it’s not working.

    when we give our volunteers responsibility without power, we have set them up to fail. seriously.

  2. Our staff pitches in to make a contribution to one of the many causes our ministry supports. We do this “in the name” of our volunteers every Christmas. I send notes to every person (even if they only helped once) to share about the contribution and to thank them for theirs.

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