I’ve led volunteer teams for a long time. If you lead volunteer teams, you understand the juggle.
Keeping track of where each volunteer is, what they need, when they serve and where they serve can be mind-boggling. Like a multi-layered game of Chutes & Ladders, one takes 3 steps forward, another seems stuck in place, and I just lost one down a chute!
How do I keep track of this highly valued team and help them as they strive to serve?
There are some amazingly gifted leaders in the ministry world from whom I’ve gleaned a few tips and tricks to make sense of the crazy and bring some structure to the tilt-a-whirl called volunteer management.
Here are 3 things I have or do that have helped me through the years.
Volunteer Org Chart
I put my team on paper.
I mean… get it out of my head.
Sam Luce calls this “Externalize your Team”. And it’s just, plain smart.
I’m not talking about your volunteer schedule on an excel spreadsheet (although a schedule is important). It isn’t your volunteer contact list (although that’s important, too!)
It’s a chart that reflects who your volunteers lead (i.e. where they serve) and who leads your volunteers. Like the organizational reporting structure for a business. It’s the visual representation of how your volunteer team is led.
You will always struggle to shepherd your volunteer team well unless you lay out a structure that defines how that shepherding will happen.
An organizational chart helps you define this. Stay tuned for more on how build a Volunteer Organizational Chart.
I use Microsoft Word to create my Org Charts… b/c I’m not a “Mac” chick… yet. Don’t judge.
Make It Prominent
I’m not a big fan of paper. Though you wouldn’t know that if you looked at my desk.
Yet I’ve found greater success leading my volunteer teams when I have an actual paper copy displayed on the wall of my office.
I’ve found greater success leading my volunteer teams when I have an actual paper copy displayed on the wall of my office.
I’ve got easy access to see my volunteers, where they serve and who leads them. I can see the roles I’m still trying to fill with a long-term leader. I can see my layers of leadership at a glance and gauge where I am.
I’ve found that I’m quicker to pray specifically for a volunteer or a need within my team when that team is prominently displayed in front of me. I find it uncanny but true. Call me less than spiritual, but the physical presence on my wall is a visual reminder of my calling to shepherd this team well. If I pastor them well, they are equipped to pastor the kids God brings to our church.
I use paper. Like… that stuff made from trees. That everyone complains about. Call me old-school.
Make It Flow
This is a new one for me. I’ve never used flow charts before. But I’ve found them remarkably helpful.
There are multiple steps we take a volunteer through before they are ‘official’. From their initial steps of observation, to their background check & application, to orientation, on-the-job training… the list goes on. And keeping track of every step is a challenge. Especially when you share this process with volunteer coaches.
So recently I’ve introduced flow charts. A visual representation of the process a volunteer completes in order to vet, prepare & equip. A checklist might accomplish the same thing, but I like the visual ‘journey’ the flow chart depicts. May be a personal preference… but I like it.
I use Draw.io for flow charts.
The objective to each of these three things is to help me meet the needs of volunteers. If I can effectively meet their needs by ensuring they are cared for and equipped then I create a volunteer experience people want to be a part of.