4 Volunteer Retention Tips You Need This Fall

Leadership / Volunteers //

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to do so much volunteer recruiting next fall?

Don’t get me wrong: it’s encouraging to see new faces show up to serve in your children’s ministry. But wouldn’t be even more encouraging to see some more of last year’s faces stick around?

Children’s ministry has a reputation for having a high turnover rate. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless when it comes to retaining KidMin volunteers!

I’ve put together a list of ways we can make your KidMin programs a better place for volunteers, just by changing the way we approach technology. I work on a tool that was created to help KidMin leaders manage Sunday school lessons and delight volunteers—and here are three ways we’ve seen that can help you retain more volunteers!

#1 Consolidate your platforms and tools

This can be a life-saver when it comes to retention. When it comes to tech platforms and tools, less is more.

Most people appreciate new technology, mostly because (if it’s good) it saves them a great deal of time. We’ve associated software platforms with ease. That means you, me, and your volunteers all expect every tech platform we use in ministry to (at some level) make the jobs easier. We love technology when it’s saving us time and effort.

But that coin has an ugly flip side: People hate technology when it’s costing us extra time and effort. And every new tool your volunteers use is going cost them time and effort up-front:

  • They’ll need to create an account
  • They’ll need to learn where everything is
  • They’ll need to get into a rhythm of checking into that platform
  • They’ll get email notifications

Those are just a few examples of ways new tools can cost your volunteers time and effort right away—before they even reap the benefits of using the tool. You’ve probably already experienced the effects of this in some of your volunteers. If volunteers need to learn too many new systems too quickly, they can feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or even apathetic about volunteering.

It’s not that new tools are bad—it’s that every tool represents something else that volunteers will need to get the hang of.

That’s why using fewer platforms and tools can help you retain more volunteers. If your volunteers only need to learn their way around one (maybe two) new technologies when they begin, then you don’t risk them feeling overwhelmed or frustrated right off the bat.

(I should probably mention here that this is one of the main reasons we made Disciplr. If you want a one-stop shop platform for your children’s ministry, you should check it out.)

#2. Strategize your messaging

I don’t think anybody likes getting buried under an avalanche of notifications from one person or ministry. I know I don’t.

That’s why one thing you can do to better retain volunteers is to have a plan for how you’re going to communicate with your team. And this plan isn’t just a matter of resolving to email your volunteers the agenda for Sunday morning sometime each week—this is a structured approach to how you will be messaging to your volunteers.

You want to know the answers to questions like:

  • What day of the week is best to email the group of teachers?
  • When should I text someone? When will an email do?
  • When should I reach out via social media?
  • How often should I be getting coffee with each volunteer?

That’s not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.

This can help you retain volunteers because, if you’re consistent and intentional with how you handle their time, it tells them that they’re making a good investment of their time. (Or, in other words, this is a great way to show volunteers that they can trust you to spend their time wisely for the Kingdom.)

#3 Reduce attachments

This one could live under point #2, but it’s so important that it deserves its own time in the spotlight.

Nobody likes digging through their email inbox for an attachment they need for Sunday morning. Nobody. It may sound silly, but keeping the volunteers’ resources in one central place (instead of living in their inbox or Downloads folder) can be a huge way to cut down frustration and increase retention.

Before you attach something in an email to a volunteer (especially a group of volunteers), ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Is there any chance I will need to revise this document later?
  • Is there more than one other person I should share this with?
  • Will they need to access this more than 3 days from now?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, consider saving that document in the cloud and giving the other person access to it. (Of course, this doesn’t have to apply to confidential documents.)

By reducing your attachments, you’re freeing the resources your volunteers need from the inbox. That’s good for everyone, but it’s especially helpful to your volunteers. Like the last tactic, it builds trust between you and the volunteer, because you’re showing them that you want to remove busywork from getting in the way of their ministry.

(By the way, if you want to really blow their socks off, you should experiment with some of these free cloud-based Sunday school lessons. No attachments necessary!)

Your turn

I’m sure there are more ways you can retain your volunteers with the technology you’re using. What do you think? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!






About the Author

Jeffrey is a Bible geek who loves showing off just how interesting the Bible is and helping the church communicate online. He partners with Disciplr, an interactive curriculum platform for children’s ministry leaders.