If we want our volunteers to stick around, we have to celebrate them! Here are some easy ways to celebrate (and therefore retain) the volunteers in your children’s ministry.
Say thanks. As often as possible, thank the volunteers on your team verbally or in writing. Send out weekly “thank-you” emails to all who served that Sunday, and try to write at least one handwritten note a week to a volunteer on your team. We even created superhero-themed postcards you can use to remind your volunteers how awesome they are! Download them here. Think of specific reasons you are thankful for the volunteer, and thank them for who they are, not just the job they fill (i.e. “thank you for using your creativity to help our preschoolers understand more about the story of Jonah today” instead of just “thank you for teaching the preschool class today”). Give your volunteers shout outs on social media and highlight the rock stars you have.
Volunteer Appreciation Gifts. Let your volunteers know you appreciate them through small gifts at least every semester, and every quarter if possible. These gifts don’t have to be big or expensive. It can be as simple as a punny printable taped to a candy bar. Check out some of the Volunteer Appreciation Ideas below to use with your team this year, and stay tuned for this Friday when we’ll share a free superhero-themed gift card printable!
- Valentine Volunteer Appreciation
- Easter Volunteer Appreciation
- Candy Volunteer Appreciation
- Christmas Volunteer Appreciation
Lead Volunteer Dinner. You may not be able to host a dinner for your entire volunteer team, but gather your key or lead volunteers at least twice a year for dinner and discussion. Ask their input and evaluation of the ministry, thank them for their hearts of service, and vision cast for the coming months.
Volunteer of the Month. Highlight a volunteer from every age group each month as a Volunteer of the Month. Volunteers of the Month can receive a small gift card or ministry tshirt and a special shout-out on social media. Here are a few ways to earn Volunteer of the Month:
- Always be on time
- Be prepared for lesson/activities
- Go the extra mile to make a child feel special (know their names, ask about their week, etc.)
- Respond to scheduling emails in a timely manner
- Engage in conversations on the training articles or Volunteer Facebook Group posts
Celebrate Successes & Focus on the Big Picture. Share stories of success within the children’s ministry with your volunteers, whether in person, through email, or on a Volunteer Facebook Group. Tell them about a child who accepts Christ, prays for the first time, or shares a meaningful moment, and remind your volunteers how they play a part in the big picture of a child’s faith development. Rocking babies helps them feel safe so when they become preteens with questions and doubts, they already know the church is a safe place to express those questions and doubts. Teaching elementary schoolers the overarching story within the Bible helps them better process how they fit into that story themselves when they are in high school and searching for their place in this world. Giving young kids the opportunity to serve helps them discern their gifts and passions that God can develop as they grow and pursue careers. Understanding this big picture approach to ministry and sharing how God is working in the life of a child both long term and short term helps us foster faith (and a volunteer team) that lasts.