In the last post, I wanted you to understand why you shouldn’t do it yourself. You CAN help out but as the leader, your job it to oversee the work being done, offering encouragement & guidance. In this post, I’m going to tell you something you may not believe & then appear to thoroughly contradict myself!
NEVER ASK for Volunteers
This doesn’t mean you won’t NEED volunteers. However, the least effective way of recruiting help for your group or event is by making a public plea for volunteers.
We’ve all seen it. Sitting in church on Sunday morning when some poor shlub has to stand in front of the congregation to ask for help. Sometimes, they are almost on the knees pleading for someone, anyone to volunteer. Why doesn’t this work?
First, EVERYBODY is busy. They are all sitting there listing the things they have to do that prevent them from helping out.
Second, everybody assumes someone else will do it.
Finally, people like to be asked! The big fundraiser at my church is an event I had led for the last 4 years. When the new women’s ministry was created, I turned the event over to them. I began hearing there were problems within the group & it looked like the fundraiser would be cancelled. You might wonder why I didn’t volunteer to help out. Simple! No one asked me. Now, this isn’t a matter of hurt feelings or being a mean. When no one asked, I assumed they had a different way they wanted to do things. A new group was in charge. I stepped back & let them run it the way they saw fit.
People like to be asked! It shows them you specifically want them to help do a certain task. It shows you feel they have the qualifications to handle the job. It also allows you to overcome any objections they may have. “Yes, everyone is very busy. That’s why we are dividing the event up into smaller parts so no one is overwhelmed by a large time commitment!” Ask them face to face & your level of success increases greatly!
A final note: Henrietta Mears, late director of Christian Education at Hollywood Presbyterian Church & founder of Gospel Light Publishing always advised against a pulpit call for volunteers. She noted this seemed to be the most popular way to recruit Sunday School teachers. Even back when she was running a very large Sunday School that had multiple classrooms for each grade, she never did a pulpit request for teachers. She felt this often attracted the wrong people to the job. Not that you would get terrible people, just people with their own agendas. Often, individuals volunteer to oversee something in an organization because they believe THEY can run it better. “I know how this should be done & this is my chance to show them how they SHOULD be doing it!” This brings on more headaches than it cures. You may also have situations where people volunteer to help because the volunteering is what gives them the warm fuzzy feeling. Unfortunately, they have no aptitude when it comes to follow through. Determine what needs to be done, the skills needed to do, then ask people qualified to do the job. Putting in time at the beginning saves you time, & pain, later!
How do YOU ask people to help with an event? What problems have you had when you call for volunteers?