We all know strong healthy relationships are important when building high functioning, compassionate and committed volunteer teams. I think our team excels in their friendships and true compassion for the people who serve with them. So I asked them to share their Top Tips!
Here are the Top Tips from our team on building relationships with volunteers:
- Pay attention! Pay attention to what is going on with them. Ask questions. Write things down so you can remember to ask about them later. Volunteers want you to know what’s going on in their life – it’s the quickest way to feel connected to them.
- Come up with a system so you don’t forget. Lindsay on my team will write a note next to the person’s contact information on her phone. So if she runs into “Leighanne” and finds out she has a big job interview this week, she writes a note on her phone next to Leighanne’s contact info. Lindsay will then shoot an email the day of to let her know she’s prayed for her, or she’ll remember to follow up on the next Sunday.
- Don’t assume you’ll remember! Write things down, and then take time during the week and especially on Sunday to catch up with them. This becomes more complicated when multiplied by 100′s of volunteers but you can do it!
- Nothing is more important than spending time with volunteers. I could rush around on a Sunday and get more “stuff” done, but sometimes the best thing to do is to talk with them while they finish their coffee or doughnut.
- Take the time to text the little things. This builds personal friendships and brings you closer in the long run. Ex – “I just ordered a sweet tea and thought of you because you love it so much.”
- Don’t be so much about the task that you can’t stop to really listen on Sunday.
- Be willing to put yourself out there. Tell them about you so they feel like they know you and want to work with you. Listen to them. Value them. Learn from them. Build respect.
- Invest in the friendship. Stop and take the moment to talk to them, and hear how they are doing. By stopping and having an actual conversation you’re showing them how important they are in the midst of the hustle and bustle.
- Take time to have lunch with them during the week.
- Every volunteer needs to be heard every week. Make sure they are heard! Ask questions about: personal events, volunteer role, suggestions and observations. A person who is heard will come back even when things don’t go as planned. A person who has a challenging personality can be communicated with the right way because there is relational capital to communicate truth that is not critical of character.
- Show interest in their personal lives outside of Sunday. Ask questions about them personally, and follow up another time.
- Encourage them in their volunteer role. “I saw you greet that child by name, thanks so much”, or “I appreciate you encouraging that student volunteer. That goes a long way. Thanks so much”
- I try to write down something that a volunteer tells me about on Sunday, and follow up during the week (surgery, special date, birthday, sick family member, etc.)
- Get personal. Volunteers have family and work stresses like all the rest of us. Investing time to find out how life is beyond their volunteer environment promotes relationships that last longer than just a volunteer season.
- Be intentional; take the extra time to ask a volunteer about them (how they are, how their week was, ask about kids, school … let them know you remember details of their lives). Over time this builds into a trust relationship, because people want to be known, and you took the time to show them they’re seen even in the craziness of Sundays.
- Have a plan! If I’m not intentional often times my day-to-day and week-to-week gets too busy! It always helps to put it on the calendar and in my weekly/monthly to-dos like anything else.
- Stay updated with what’s going on in your volunteers’ lives, and ask for prayer requests (it allows you into their world and to know what’s on their heart). Pray boldly for them and let them know that you’ve been praying specifically for them. Follow up with them when they’ve shared what’s on their heart/going on with their family (are they struggling at work? Did they have a big exam? Do they have a sick family member? Are they looking to buy a new house? etc.). Just checking in with people and letting them know how much you care and that you’re praying for them goes a long way!
- Be genuine, and get to know them personally.
- Truly listen and remember things volunteers mention in conversations. Then, send an email or card to check on them, and let them know you’re thinking about them outside of our environment.
- Spending intentional time going deeper with conversations, getting to know them beyond their service to the environment.
- Praying together during meetings and asking volunteers to share stories.
- Send a personal note or email after a Sunday to 2-3 volunteers.
- Ask questions, and take the time to get to know them. Don’t keep it just business, but rather about their families and personal lives. Take time outside of Sunday… coffee, lunch or I even do get-togethers at my house once a month, or every other month, and invite all of my coaches. Everyone brings a snack food, and we just have a fun night catching up with one another.
- Hang out after large group to chat, check in, and ask how the production went. Basically, make the first move!
- Use the volunteers’ name when speaking to them, and stop what you’re doing to give your full attention while in conversation.
- Making sure you speak to every volunteer each time they are present, thanking them for their time and commitment to your department. Never let any of your volunteers feel invisible or unneeded.
- I stay connected with them on Facebook. It really helps generate natural conversations on Sunday when you can find common ground or similar interests.
- Ask them for their prayer requests. You can get to know a lot about someone in a short amount of time when you find out what they are specifically praying for.
What is your Top Tip for building strong relationships with your volunteers?
*Next week let’s share Top Tips for having fun with your staff. The staff that plays together works hard together!