One of the most common responses to our survey question “What would allow you to volunteer more at the parish” is a write-in: “If someone called me back.” UGH, doesn’t that just hit you right in the middle of the chest. Sometimes people don’t get a call or email back to signing up because they’ve written illegibly and although we tried, we didn’t succeed. Sometimes they never responded to our emails or voicemails – communication is a two-way street.
But sometimes I think it’s because they signed up to help with Easter Flowers during the September ministry fair and we just plain forgot to call them (or lost that list) when the time came to recruit volunteers. This person didn’t respond again when we asked for volunteers in the bulletin because they thought they’d already signed up and were waiting for that call to volunteer.
So what’s the solution? While there are a variety of potential solutions, the one I want to propose here today is Bi or Tri Annual “Time and Talent” Drives for Stewardship.
While some opportunities at the parish are on-going like Liturgical Ministers or monthly Bingo volunteers – a lot of them are seasonal like the Angel Tree or Easter Flowers or Vacation Bible School. So instead of having a list of your 88 ministries (maybe you have less than that) at once, separate them out into groupings based on when volunteers are most needed. Then do two or three volunteer drives that have only the most relevant ministries listed.
For instance, in the Fall you could recruit for Liturgical Ministries, Faith Formation Catechists, the Fall Festival, Thanksgiving Baskets, Angel Tree, and Christmas Decorators. Then in January ask for help with Lenten retreats, Pro-Life Ministry, Spring Bible Studies, Spring Gardening, and Easter celebrations. Followed by a May ask for help with Vacation Bible School, summer fun nights, and the youth group’s Mission Trip. Each season could include a request for Liturgical Ministers and Bingo volunteers (should you need them).
No matter which ministry’s on the list, there should be an upcoming opportunity to get involved. So if you only do Lector training once a year, recruit right before that session. If you only need your Angel Tree volunteers from November 15th to December 20th, don’t ask for them in January – we won’t remember they committed and they can’t even make a true commitment – who knows where we’ll be next December!
Rather than ministry leaders and volunteers getting frustrated, we’ll be more intentional about how we ask, the ways people respond, and how we invite new volunteers!