“We just don’t have time to properly train our volunteers.”
“I don’t know what they need to know.”
“I told them where to stand and what to do. That’s enough, right?”
“Nobody ever shows up, anyway. So we just canceled it.”
We’ve all talked to leaders who have given up on the idea of an orientation training for volunteers. (Maybe you are one of those leaders.) Whatever the reason: lack of interest, fear of failure, laziness, or not enough time, I want to encourage you to build a rabid culture around training your vols. When you are committed to the onboarding process…
- You help vols understand the why behind the what.
- You connect a volunteer’s task to the grander story.
- You kill off incorrect assumptions or old habits about what it means to serve.
- You lower the risk of frustrating your vols when they don’t know what to do.
So instead of dropping your training, drip it.
We drip our training when we make it a regular part of the rhythms of our ministry. Instead of putting all of your eggs in the basket of one huge training in the fall and another one in the spring, consider offering monthly information sessions where potential volunteers can hear a quick pitch and overview of what you’re asking them to do. Here’s how you make that happen:
1. Put it on the calendar. That seems obvious, but I’m surprised at the number of leaders who don’t plan for trainings and then are surprised when they don’t happen. Aim for ten training events per year…that gives you a month off in summer and around Christmas.
2. Advertise it. Talk about it from stage, at your newcomers event, one-on-one with new friends. Make sure everyone knows that if they want to serve, your training is the place to go.
3. Make sign up easy. Design a simple URL so you can immediately push people to a sign up form. Better yet, pull out your phone and sign them up on the spot.
4. Make the event an event. I talked about this in a recent post, but make sure you’re serving your vols well if they take the time to show up.
5. Train your current vols to encourage new vols to attend. Whether you subscribe to the “serve first, then get trained” or “train first, then start serving” school, dripping your training (ie, doing it once per month) allows all of your volunteers to gather practical skills within the first few weeks of being on the team. But this has to start with your current volunteers. Team leads should be equipped to pull a volunteer from the roster for the morning if it means they’re going through training.
Are you dripping your training? Find out more about how to integrate training into your volunteer ministry at our One-Day Workshop on Volunteer Culture.