How To Write Emails Your Volunteers Will Actually Read

We didn’t know about that!

What do you mean, I emailed you guys 3 times about it!” you say.

Have you ever felt like your emails were falling on deaf ears? They might be now, but that can change. And all it takes is a little clearer communication on your end.

When I look at our ministry teams I see a handful of ministry junkies. They read everything. They want more info and more details…but they are probably in the minority. Not everyone wants a jam packed inbox.

Last spring, Tony Morgan (The Unstuck Group) recommended we do a communication audit. So we saved every piece of communication our church sent to our guest, regular attenders and members. We taped it all to the wall and it was mind blowing. We sent a lot.

I can’t even imagine what the word count was. Too many, no matter how you count it.

It isn’t a surprise that with the mountain of email our volunteers get that some would fall on deaf ears. So what can we do about it?

1. Send Less Email

I know what you’re thinking, you only send them what they need. But this is one area where less is more. Pack more value into each email, and send less. Make your emails worth reading (in one sitting, not several).

2. Summarize

I know it sounds odd to give your email a table of content, but it works. Tell your volunteers what the email is about. Tease them.


3. Make It Scannable

This is as simple as bolding important sentences and turning lists into bullet points.

Maybe you’re a leadership junkie and you’ve read every word of this post, or maybe you’ve got a lot to do today so the first thing you did was read the bold words and scanned the numbered list. You’re human…so is your volunteer team.

4. If Possible, Use Images

When you already produce graphics for upcoming events, use the same images in your emails. Create anchor points for your church that they can visually tie together.

The communication you send to your volunteers is for their benefit, not yours.
— Steven J Barker

In reality, the communication you send to your volunteers is for their benefit, not yours. Your job is to give them the info they need to make a measurable impact. As volunteer managers, we aren’t bosses, we are assistants. It’s our job to give them the resources they need (and want).

Question of the day: How have you seen communication change in the last few years?