Intentional Volunteer Meetings
Volunteer meetings can be a great time for team building, training, and even having some fun together. However, they can also be boring, tedious, and drive people away from being a part of your team. It is important to be intentional with every volunteer meeting to avoid the latter. A lot of people are moving toward video training for their volunteers because they can't seem to get people to attend their meetings, but I am a firm believer in getting the team together in the same room to get on the same page. I wasn't always intentional about my meetings, or even great at leading them, but I've learned some important lessons so I can make the most of my volunteer meetings, and how to get people to actually show up.
Step 1: Consistent Meeting Times
Choose a time to meet with your team, and stick to it. It's a lot easier for everyone to remember when the meetings are, and make them a priority when the times are consistent. We have chosen to meet once a month on the second Sunday of the month following the last service. Sometimes, your meeting time may fall on a holiday weekend, so when this happens my advice is to either cancel or reschedule for the month. No one wants to be required to show up to a meeting on Mother's Day. Remember to stick to your meeting start and end times. If your meeting is scheduled to end at 1:30, let your team out at 1:25. If you need a longer meeting time, communicate it out ahead of time so your team can be prepared.
Step 2: Clear Communication
If you are going to get your team to show up for your meetings, you have to clearly communicate the details. Email them, Facebook message them, talk to them in the hallway, text them, do whatever you have to do to make sure everyone gets the information. We also email our team after meetings with the information that was covered so they can reference it later. Any expectations, forms or sign-ups are also emailed out to all of our team members. Don't worry about over-communicating. I have never heard a volunteer complain about knowing too much.
Step 3: Cast Your Vision
If God has given you a word for your ministry, share it with your team. Ask them to pray that vision over the kids and families in your ministry. Include them in that vision. When you are talking about upcoming events, don't just give them the details. Share the vision or the why behind the events. When your team realizes that there is a vision behind everything you do, they will get behind it and support you. Remember to not get too long-winded, or your team will begin to tune you out.
Step 4: Calendar Updates
I want my volunteer team to be the first to know about what is coming up in our ministry. I will usually share more of the details and vision behind any events or sermon series that are coming up in the next month or two. Then I will briefly share what's coming up in the next few months after that. The goal should be that your team knows the details of what is coming up well enough to share with families who have questions when you are not around.
Step 5: Serve Food
This step might be the most important of all. Since our meetings happen around lunch time, we always provide lunch for our team. Even if your meeting time doesn't fall during a meal, I would encourage you to provide some fun snacks and desserts. I've found that where there is good food, people will show up! Don’t expect your volunteers to show up for a meeting or volunteer event if you’re feeding them the same old, stale pizza they get at every kids’ event (yes, the $5 hot-n-ready pizza’s from Little Caesar’s). I like to change it up at meetings. Sometimes we go a little cheaper and do a DIY sandwich bar and other times we put in a large order at a restaurant. Some of my favorites that won't completely break the bank are Jimmy Johns, Wing Stop, Olive Garden, or any fast casual Mexican restaurants. My volunteers always love it when I make them some homemade cookies or brownies, too. If you don’t have the budget to bring in something nicer, make them a home-cooked meal like chili or tacos. They will appreciate the extra effort, and will love the fact that it’s not pizza again.
Step 6: Have Fun!
Meetings can be boring at times. Always have an element of fun in every meeting to make up for the "boring" parts. I have started playing a team building game at the beginning of every meeting. I try to choose games that get everyone involved, encourage interaction, and require teamwork. It also helps to have some kind of prize(s) for winning. Sometimes I do a drawing for a gift card, or give out candy bars to the winning team. I try to keep the game at ten minutes or less so no one feels like I'm wasting their time. If you don't feel like playing a game, you can always just do a drawing for gift cards or other prizes. Make sure you only give stuff away to the leaders who attend the meeting. For more ideas on ways to appreciate your volunteers, check out these posts: 8 Easy Ways to Appreciate Your Volunteers and 6 Ways to Appreciate Your Volunteers for Free.
Step 7: Train
You can choose to do training during meetings once a quarter, or incorporate some training into each month. Recently, I have decided to incorporate some training every month, and focus on a different topic each month. I have all of my early childhood, elementary, and kid's check-in volunteers attend the monthly meetings. Sometimes our training topics are universal, and we keep the whole team together, but some months we choose to break up into groups to train more specifically in each area. This is why training is always the last part of the meeting. If you decide to do training monthly, keep it to no more than 30 minutes. Chances are you have at list of volunteer training topics as long as the dictionary, so stick to one topic each month, and cover it thoroughly. Your leaders aren't going to be able to retain the information if you try to cover everything all at once. At the end of your training always open up the floor for additional questions.
Step 8: Pray
You can never pray too much for your volunteer team. Pray over them before meetings, during meetings, in the middle of the week, whenever one of them crosses your mind. Let them know you are praying for them and their families. Lastly, pray for God to bring the right volunteers onto your team.
How do you make the most of your volunteer meetings? What are you doing to make your volunteers feel like a team?