How to create a new volunteer program at your church

Volunteers are the backbone of many churches. But setting up a new volunteer program from scratch is intimidating. Below are some tips to help you set up and successfully manage a new program.

Identify roles needed
The first step to setting up a new volunteer program is to decide exactly what roles you need volunteers to fill, and start small! Once you have a volunteer tackling some responsibilities, they can help you figure out how many volunteers you should grow the position to in the future. And don’t forget the power of asking for help; a scheduler at a nearby church would probably be very happy to share with you the tips and tricks they’ve learned for their church, including how many volunteers it takes to get things done, whether that’s for weekly services or a large event. With over 3,800 churches that use Ministry Scheduler Pro to schedule their volunteers, we’d be happy to put you in touch with a happy user near you!

Recruit volunteers
You can probably name a few people who already regularly help out around the church. Start by asking if they would help fill positions! Many people will be thankful to see that a formal volunteer program is being put in place, and would be happy to schedule their involvement knowing the responsibilities won’t always fall on their shoulders. You can also place an announcement in your church bulletin, send an email out to church members, or post your schedule directly on your church website. With Ministry Scheduler Pro, you can send a list of volunteer roles that need to be filled right to people’s inboxes, and invite them to sign up online, and post a real-time version of the schedule right to your website. And don’t forget to check in with your Pastor; they typically have great insight into people who have wanted to get involved. It never hurts to have them make a request for help from the pulpit!

Onboard Volunteers
The easier it is for your volunteers to sign up, the more participation you will have. Adding an online sign up to your church website is a friendly, non-invasive way of inviting newcomers to see how they can get involved. You can set up a custom enrollment form to collect any necessary information pertaining to that specific volunteer role. Depending on the type of role, you may also need to ask the volunteer if they have any experience that would relate to the role, and if not, offer training or arrange to schedule them with someone more experienced. Ministry Scheduler Pro can create schedules with a wide variety of needs in mind, including scheduling based on skills, keeping people together or apart, and respecting assigned roles.

Create your schedule
Will your schedule be filled through self-sign ups, based on repeating assignments, or will you want to assign your volunteers manually? How will you regularly stay on top of your volunteers' service preferences and family needs such as scheduling siblings together, or leaving one parent free to babysit? These are unique questions that will come down to your specific needs, but will most likely need to be updated regularly as your program grows. Don’t be afraid to make changes based on the successes or areas of improvement that you find!

Share your schedule
Your volunteers can only help if they know when they are scheduled to participate! How will you share your schedule with volunteers, and how often will that happen? What about those who are not accessible through your website or email? Make sure the process for sharing your schedule gives volunteers ample time to receive the schedule, make any changes to their personal plans, and look for substitutes if they require a change. By making the schedule available as early as possible, you’ll both show respect to your volunteers, help reduce the number of last minute changes, and reduce the probability of no-shows! Ministry Scheduler Pro is a flexible system that makes it easy to share schedules with your volunteers through printed schedules, email, the volunteer Web Terminal, or the free Ministry Scheduler Pro mobile app!

Communicate regularly
The largest key to success for your volunteer program will be regular communication with your volunteers, including communicating changes to the schedule and making special volunteer requests. How often will you reach out to volunteers, what information will you be sharing, and how will you invite them to communicate back? With Ministry Scheduler Pro, you can send personalized emails or text messages, easily follow up with no-shows, get quick feedback with polls and RSVPs, and see who has received and read your messages!

With the right tools in place, setting up and managing a volunteer program doesn’t have to be an overwhelming responsibility! If you’d like to see how Ministry Scheduler Pro can help you connect, schedule, and grow your ministries, get started with our no credit card required, 30-day free trial or contact one of our experts for a personalized walkthrough!