Look, Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our children’s ministries, selflessly dedicating their time and energy to make a difference in our ministry departments. They deserve our utmost respect and admiration. However, let's face it, even volunteers have their moments of frustration. For this week’s blog post, I want to share with you 8 things your volunteers hate.
1. Ineffective or disorganized management: Volunteers may become frustrated when they feel that the children’s ministry department consists of poor communication, lacks direction, or fails to provide adequate support and resources. Not only can this make it difficult for volunteers to carry out their tasks effectively, but it also serves as a breeding ground for chaos when working with children. If you struggle at being organized, get someone around you who is, and make sure your people have the resources, information, and support they need when they need it.
2. Unfulfilling tasks: You got the volunteer, GREAT! But now, they are finding themselves coming in early just to sit along a wall and monitor bathroom breaks. If volunteers are assigned tasks that don't align with their skills, interests, or the reason they volunteered in the first place, they will find it challenging to stay motivated, and ultimately, they’ll leave. So, be intentional and match volunteers with tasks that provide a sense of purpose and utilize their abilities effectively. If you don’t know what their interests are…ASK!
3. Never-ending team-building exercises and meetings: Now hear me, Volunteers are all for bonding and camaraderie. You need that! But when team-building activities and meetings stretch on and on, even the most patient volunteers can't help but roll their eyes. So whether you’re meeting in-person or online, be mindful when creating your agenda, reign in the chatty Cathies, and learn to land your plane. Trust me, your volunteers will love you for it.
4. The mysterious "last-minute change of plans”: Picture this: A group of dedicated volunteers spends weeks meticulously planning an event, only to have the entire agenda abruptly change on the day of execution. Now, don’t get me wrong, Volunteers have an incredible capacity to adapt, but it's hard not to silently mutter a few choice words when all their hard work and personal cash flow goes out the window. So, don’t blindside your volunteers. Pull the plug if you must but communicate accordingly and respectfully.
5. Lack of appreciation: Volunteers often sacrifice their time and effort to serve in your department. As much as they don’t like to admit it, they appreciate recognition and gratitude for their contributions. When their efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated, it can be demotivating and disheartening. So, make sure you’re finding time to appreciate your volunteers. Even a simple “Thank you” can go a long way on a hard day.
6. Negative or toxic environments: Volunteers may feel discouraged if they encounter negative attitudes, conflicts, or a toxic serve-team environment. Watch your ministry! Don’t allow the children’s ministry department to become fertile soil for gossiping, backbiting, and negative attitudes on your watch. Tell “Negative Nancy” she has got to go! A supportive and inclusive atmosphere is crucial for volunteers to thrive and enjoy their experience in the ministry.
7. Feeling undervalued: Volunteers may feel undervalued if their opinions, ideas, or suggestions are not considered or if they are not given opportunities for growth and development within their volunteering roles. Provide growth opportunities for your team as much as possible, and try to be open to their ideas. You never know when God wants to birth an innovative idea through one of them to fix that very thing you’ve been praying for that has been hindering your ministry from going to the next level.
8. The overzealous volunteer coordinator: Bless their enthusiastic hearts, but sometimes volunteer coordinators can be a tad overbearing. Volunteers dread the coordinator who micro-manages their every move, hovers around like a helicopter parent and insists on double-checking every task, leaving them feeling like they're in an unpaid boot camp. Throw in awkward social dynamics, and it’s a recipe for disaster! So, be intentional about whom you choose to help assist you in that role.
It's important for children’s ministry departments to address these concerns and make every effort to create a positive and rewarding environment for their volunteers. Regular communication, recognition of their efforts, providing meaningful tasks, and more can contribute to a more satisfying volunteer experience that will be a win-win for all parties involved.