Everyone can volunteer somewhere, but no one can serve anywhere. Helping potential volunteers find a role that is a fit for their skill sets, personalities, and passions should be a top priority of those who lead volunteers. I refer to this as finding their sweet spot. When a person serves in their sweet spot, the experience is inherently different than serving in any ole’ spot. Serving in any ole’ spot is characterized by duty, responsibility, and commitment, which can be emotionally draining. On the flip side, time spent serving in their sweet spot can be described as life giving, empowering, enjoyable, and invigorating!
Be careful not to fall prey to the whatever-you-need myth. When we are in a pinch and hear a volunteer say this phrase, it can be tempting to trade everything we know about sweet spots for a quick solution. Often when we hear a volunteer say, “Whatever you need,” we praise them for their flexibility and availability. Leaning into the whatever-you-need myth is dangerous because it gives you a false sense of success and sets the volunteer up for potential discouragement by filling a role that is not in their sweet spot. Letting volunteers choose an attitude of whatever-you-need could potentially cause burnout and be the reason they leave your ministry or church to serve somewhere else.
If you want to achieve an excellent volunteer culture, your mindset should shift from filling volunteer vacancies to finding their sweet spot so your volunteers can thrive. Ask the question, “Are my volunteers in their sweet spots?” instead of, “Do I have all the spots filled?” It can be incredibly hard to make this shift, but if you commit to this principle, the tide will begin to change and deliver positive results.
Volunteers who are dialed into their sweet spots are eager to continue volunteering and will even invite their friends to join them in the experience. When this happens, instead of having to deal with the challenge of finding enough volunteers, you may find that your new challenge will be in finding enough roles for your abundance of volunteers to fill.
Volunteers are gifts from God that are entrusted to us and when we steward those gifts well God is faithful to fill every need. When you help people find their sweet spot, instead of simply filling spots, volunteers will stick and you can begin to STOP RECRUITING and START RETAINING!
For more information on how to create an irresistible volunteer culture, grab a copy ofTVP book cover_front The Volunteer Project: Stop Recruiting. Start Retaining.