Tips for Recruiting (and Retaining!) VBS Volunteers

Recruiting VBS Volunteers

Perhaps one of the most important things for a VBS director to consider is how they will recruit – and retain – their volunteers. VBS, quite simply, would not succeed without the support of its volunteer community. They are the heartbeat of the VBS season. The people who turn up each and every day to donate their time and help minister to children. They are priceless when it comes to your church’s VBS campaign.

Given this, we thought it would be helpful to provide some of our top tips for recruiting and retaining VBS volunteers for your program…

Tip #1: You are needed

Simple right? But you’d likely be surprised at the number of people who may assume you already have plenty enough volunteers already. Be sure to communicate clearly and frequently with the church congregation to let them know what a difference they could make to the VBS program. Provide specific details about the areas you most need support. Do you need volunteers to help build VBS sets? Or provide meals? Greet families and register children? Promotion? Social media? Help with preschoolers? Communicate this with your church and watch as the volunteers come flooding in!

How to:

  • Use the resources your church already has available to communicate to possible volunteers. Post around the church, on bulletin boards, on social media channels. Reach as many people as you can with your message of volunteer opportunities.
  • Clearly communicate the benefit of volunteering to potential volunteers – speak of the benefits for your church, for the children and for the volunteers themselves.
  • Put the call out well in advance of your program – give people the chance to organize any support or time off work they’ll need to donate their time to the church’s VBS program.

Tip #2: Communicate

This tip might seem incredibly basic, but it can so often be forgotten during the endlessly busy season of VBS! Communicate regularly with your VBS team – this is equally important in the lead up to the VBS program as well as during the program. If you keep them in the loop about what is happening, what is planned and what is expected of them, you’re more likely to have invested volunteers. It shows they are important enough to the VBS program to be kept in the loop.

How to:

  • In the lead up to VBS, make sure you bring the volunteer team together frequently. Communicate where the team is up to with the preparation and delegate tasks.
  • During VBS, host a short meeting before the day begins and again when the day ends. At this meetings, discuss key matters/issues, state the agenda for the day, wrap up how the day went, and what is coming up.
  • Create a platform where volunteers can communicate with you and with fellow volunteers – perhaps create a chat group on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

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Tip #3: You are valued

We can probably all agree that it is nice to feel valued. This is no different for VBS volunteers. They are doing such an important job for your church and the children and this should be recognized. Wherever you see a VBS volunteer going above and beyond, make sure to tell them how much it is appreciated. Be specific. If they’ve shown a particular aptitude for creating enthusiasm among the children, tell them about it. Maybe their crafting skills have helped immensely. Let them know you have noticed this. Communicating what an important part of the team each volunteer is makes a big difference in retaining volunteers and ensuring they come back the next year!

How To:

  • When meeting with your volunteers at the start and end of the day, take some time to focus on the good work being displayed by members of the team. By showing you’ve noticed the hard work they have put in, you’ll surely encourage more people to stand out!

Tip #4: Your Opinion Matters

Give opportunities for your volunteers to speak their minds and submit ideas. As VBS director you have to remember that you can’t do it all yourself. Tap into the incredible resource that is your group of volunteers and regularly ask for their input. It’s a wonderful way to take some pressure off yourself, all while showing volunteers that their voice is heard. By asking for this input from the team, you’ll have a fresh batch of ideas that perhaps you hadn’t thought of before!

How to:

  • Host ideas meetings with volunteers – these meetings should be solely focused on presenting new ideas, discussing how things could be improved upon. These are particularly relevant in the lead up to the VBS program.
  • Have an open door policy (so to speak!) – encourage volunteers to contact you whenever they have an idea they’d like to propose or see something they think would be of benefit to the program.

Tip #5: You are Respected

Show your volunteers respect. Always. This probably goes without saying, but sometimes it is handy to remind yourself. It’s often the little things that will communicate respect for your volunteers, and it’s these little things that will make all the difference into how they view their time in the VBS team.

How to:

  • Give plenty of advance notice – their time is valuable, so don’t expect them to turn up with a last minute notice. Plan their schedule in advance so they know just when they are needed.
  • Have a plan for each volunteer each day – when you’ve asked them to show up, you should know just what it is they’ll be working on. As a volunteer, there is nothing worse than showing up and having no set directive.

Tip #6: We are Thankful for You

Now, we saved the most important part for last. Give thanks. Always, always, always. In both small ways and big ways. Giving thanks is one of the most important ways you can foster a good relationship with all your volunteers. You might be surprised at just how far a simple “thank you” can go.

How to:

  • Send handwritten notes to volunteers – be specific when writing out your thanks, don’t resort to a stock-standard “thank you” for all volunteers.
  • Give them a shout-out on your church’s social media – perhaps even post profiles of your VBS team and outline just what makes them special to your team of volunteers and how they stand out.
  • Present volunteers with a gift – at the end of the program, present a small token of appreciation for the time they donated.

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