The following comes from Jay Lorenzen's OnMovements.
In an article he did for Christianity Today, Ted Harro suggests the following five things that every volunteer wants. As we lead local movement building efforts, we’re all dependent upon volunteers.
1.You to call them to a clear, compelling purpose.
Happy volunteers are crystal clear on their ministry’s purpose. They can tell you not only why their group exists, but also why that cause is important. For an important cause, they will give selflessly, and thank you for it.
2. You to involve them as much as possible.
This principle is counter-intuitive, but miss it and you’ll drive volunteers nuts. On one hand, volunteers are busy and juggling multiple priorities. On the other hand, we desperately want to have input into the direction and execution of the ministry. Simply donating funds or executing staff-made plans fail to excite long-term motivation.
3. You to help them celebrate moments by creating traditions.
Harro writes: I recently decided to do a take-off on the foot-washing story at a recent volunteer appreciation retreat. We gave each leader a servant’s towel and, as a group, affirmed some way that they had imitated Jesus’ service. Dry eyes were at a premium as we soaked in the affirmation of God and our peers.
The next year, with the same result, we decided to make the towel-affirmation a tradition. It allows us to underline core values and say the positive words that often go unspoken. And it speaks to the desire of volunteers—consistent relational investment punctuated by meaningful moments.
4. You to not waste their time.
Remember, volunteers want to contribute. They see their unpaid work as a wonderful way to build meaning and purpose into life. And they evaluate every meeting, e-mail, and phone call to see if it adds meaning. If not, they will withdraw and allocate their time elsewhere.
Our volunteers develop a sensitive nose for the hopelessly under-resourced project. Nothing leads to the starving of projects more predictably than a failure to regularly prune the ministry
As a leader, Harro finds that he needs a “stop doing” list at least as much as a “to do” list. Otherwise, he argues, we’d simply confuse and frustrate our volunteers.
5. You to stop the ball-hogging.
Any ball player knows how little fun it is to play with a ball hog. What that player is silently communicating is that he doesn’t trust you to do something good with the ball. And eventually, you just want to sit down. How often do we really entrust our volunteers with doing the most important part of ministry?