Regardless of what curriculum you use, you need some type of structure for your volunteer teams. Like all structures (building, financial, communication, etc), your volunteer structure can fuel growth or limit growth. For that reason, intentionally creating the best volunteer structure is extremely important. Because 252 Basics and Orange are part of a strategy, there are specific things you want to keep in mind as you structure your teams.
There are many different ways to structure your volunteer teams, and your structure affects everything from relational connection with families to leadership delegation. One mistake that’s easy to make is to build a structure that makes it easy for people to volunteer. That sounds counterintuitive, because of course you want it to be easy for people to volunteer. However, that shouldn’t be the primary factor in determining structure. Yes, you may get more volunteers, but quality is more important than quantity.
Here are important factors to consider when determining how you will structure your volunteer teams:
Number of services
The number of services you have is a big determining factor in how you structure your teams. Having small group leaders serve weekly in elementary is definitely the goal, but if you have one service that’s not going to happen. If you have 2-3 services, you might decide that your large group volunteers will serve once every 4 weeks during all services to get the most out of the preparation they put in.
Determine the minimum commitment for each role. We have some bi-weekly preschool volunteers, but that’s the minimum for us. Outside of large group and check-in, all roles in preschool are weekly or bi-weekly and all small group leaders in elementary are weekly. We’re even slowly moving towards weekly in preschool.
You might be tempted to do a month on / month off, or every 3rd week, or something different like that. I would not go that route and the next factor is the reason why.
Prioritize Relationship Building
Build a volunteer structure that maximizes relationship building between leaders, kids and their parents. If people serve once a month, every 3rd week, or month on / month off, it’s hard for them to build solid relationships. Yes, it’s more difficult to recruit towards. However, once you make the move it’s easy to continue recruiting to it because new volunteer prospects won’t know about how it was before. Often times we talk to a new volunteer prospect who wants to serve bi-weekly, learns that weekly is the only option, and decides to go for it anyway and is happy they did. Some don’t, and that’s okay too.
Your volunteer structure should not look like the one Moses had before his father in-law taught him how to delegate (Exodus 18). If you have more than 12-15 volunteers, you should build in roles where volunteers lead and serve teams of volunteers. We call them coaches, and ideally we like every coach to lead up to 8-12 volunteers, 15 max. Anything beyond that is too much for one volunteer and people aren’t cared for and led at the level we expect. Roughly speaking, if we had 100 volunteers we would hope 8-10 of them would be coaches. You’ll have empty coach roles as you start out and as you grow, but be sure to put them in place and work towards filling them with great people.
What volunteer structures do you use? What are the advantages and disadvantages?