The Secret to Managing Flakey Volunteers

What's the secret to managing flakey, unreliable volunteers? Bigger Ask. In an effort to make it as easy as possible to volunteer in our organizations we sometimes tend to set the bar too low. We start by making the task something simple and easy to hand off (...and hard to screw up). But this doesn't always have the impact we wish it did. 


For example, in many churches the hospitality or the first impression team is a simple team to join. The on boarding is fast, and the task is simple. The problem is that it's also the hardest to maintain. It's hard to feel needed when you are so easily replaced. So how do you manage these types of relationships, especially with someone who is serving out of the kindness of their heart? You find the appropriate ask. 

1. Don't loose the easy onboard.

It's so important to make it easy for volunteers to join your teams, so make this first step easy. If someone joined your team, where exactly would they serve their first week in? Is it easy to explain, easy to pick up? It needs to be. 

2. Then set the bar higher.

One of my favorite volunteers is a muscle bound kid's ministry volunteer. He's GREAT with kids, but he started flaking out. He would start canceling at the last minute, or just generally being dissatisfied with how things were going. So instead of apologizing and seeing if there was a better fit in another ministry I asked him if he would take on more responsibility. He said yes. And to be honest, it wasn't long before I felt like I took to long to ask him. He stepped up in a big way and he continues to impress me with his servant heart and impact on both kids and their families. 

Update: 10 months later, this muscle bound volunteer is still serving and expanding his influence. Stronger then ever. 

3. And absolutely give your people breaks.

The last thing you or I want to do is burn people out. Give people the opportunity to take time off. Talk to them. Encourage them to take some time and that you can revisit volunteering in a month or two. Set a reminder for yourself and reach out. Sometimes their tank just needs to be filled before they can jump back into service. 

Volunteering/serving is such a crucial part of our spiritual development. It allows each and everyone of us to function as part of the whole. Your and my responsibility is to support them in every possible way. It's our job to equip the saint to be the saints. That's where our reach is multiplied and real lives have the port unity to be impacted and changed.