Recruiting, Managing and Supervising Volunteers

One of the questions we often get asked at CTD is

'How do you recruit more volunteers?'

or a statement like

'We can't get anyone to do the things we want to do'

This can be, though not exclusively, common in smaller churches, although larger churches doing a lot of activity can run the risk of over burdening people with so many voluntary activities. The question of volunteers cuts across many churches and organisations, from recruiting for youth work, to voluntary governance positions or helping at the food bank.

A few things to bear in mind

1. It is important to recruit well, and have good policies in place for safe recruitment, doing good checks of them.

The link to Safe recruitment is here

2. It is important to give volunteers adequate preparation and training for the role that they are expected to fulfil, and where appropriate reviews, and space to develop them. It is important to value people, beyond the 'basics'.

3. It is a important that they know what you expect of them in terms of time, for example, if a time to plan or review a session is required, then factor this in, and if possible include volunteers in these team decisions/planning and organisation.

4. It can be good to let volunteers how long they are going to be needed for- and stick to it! Haven't we all heard the stories of the voluntary leader who was only meant to be doing the role for 6 months, and its now 6 years? Some people can offer their time consistently over a long periods, some find a time-limited role much more manageable, even if it requires a little more of them in the short term - eg helping out daily at a holiday club for a week during the summer. It's important to work out which is going to be best for individuals and ensure they are matched to the right volunteer role.

Its likely you have thought about the above - and the issue is the lack of people, to do the 'things'.

At CTD we are all about encouraging churches to see the gifts and resources already present in the local community (we call this asset based community development). This might challenge us to look differently at the community - we may have thought our role is to rescue or save them - but what if instead our role is to provide opportunities to develop and nurture their gifts and skills? - and could volunteering be one way of this happening?

There are a number of examples of people from communities now volunteering in projects all around the diocese, from parents helping at children clubs, to drivers for food deliveries; might it be that some of the most creative, caring, responsible people are in our local communities, but we just don't know it yet, because we haven't got to know them, or had conversations with them?

We have seen the rise of mutual aid and volunteering during the pandemic, It could be that a number of volunteers from these schemes might be known and could make valuable contributions to you.

You may well be right, that there aren't enough volunteers to do everything, maybe the source of volunteers is in a place that hadn't been noticed before, or the right person's gifts hadn't been spotted yet.

Asking ; 'what qualities have I noticed in the people in this community?' or ' who are the helpers?' might be a good way of starting this.

or notice those who instinctively want to 'give back' whenever you have given (time, food etc) , and politely enquire what they might like to do, or could contribute?

Or maybe it's not necessary to divide volunteers among projects - is there existing provision that you could join in with? Some churches work very effectively with local community centres, and the pool of potential volunteers is shared, ideas and energy doubled, and action much more co-ordinated and effective then organisations operating alone and struggling to get enough volunteers involved. Getting to know other agencies in your area and creating partnerships can be the way to make the biggest difference.

There is no quick fix - all we would encourage is to broaden our vision to the potential of others, and those whom we haven't seen yet, or included who might have much to contribute. It may be a matter how who is asked, how they are asked, and how they are supported to do the role.

There are a number of resources and organisations in the north east who may have ideas to help you with volunteering, especially in regard to policies and procedures.

Volunteer Management

Run by VONNE a course on Volunteer Management, in July 2021 is upcoming here