This post is part of a series on 7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System.
We often tell parents and preschool volunteers how kids learn more in the first 5 years of their life than they do in the rest of their life combined. They can do that because of how their brain works, but God also wired us that way because we need to learn so much early on to function well.
People who sign up to volunteer for the first time in our ministries also need helpful training in the very beginning to prepare them well. Here are 3 ways you can train volunteers during the onboarding process (we’re overhauling ours right now to maximize these).
Orientations are helpful for attracting potential volunteers since it gives you something to point to and promote for people who are not serving. A good orientation can be part of the training process, and the big thing that can be accomplished in the orientation is casting vision. Use the orientation to talk about your church’s mission, vision and strategy. Talk about the vision and specifics of your ministry and how everything you do supports it. Connect the dots for people to show them how the roles they might play are part of the bigger picture.
The goal: Orientation attenders leave understanding why your ministry exists and feel motivated to be part of it.
Environment & Role Discussion
It’s important for new volunteers to fully understand the environment they’ll be in and the specific role they will serve. This is where environment handbooks and volunteer job descriptions are important. Take time to create those resources and schedule time to walk new volunteers through both. Help them understand the essential policies and systems of the environment. Give them a clear win for the role they’ll serve in, along with all the expectations that come with that role.
The goal: New volunteers grasp the essentials of the environment and know how to “win” in their role.
We have always talked about apprenticing new volunteers and have done it to some extent, but not nearly as well as we could have. In fact, there’s been a clear difference in how well new volunteers have done when they experienced a real apprenticeship. The key to good apprenticing is making sure the new volunteer serves alongside a veteran who is assigned to coach them. Put a time frame around it, and follow up with both the mentor and new volunteer after that time frame to debrief.
The goal: New volunteers experience exactly what you’re looking for in the role they will serve in.
Those are 3 ways we seek to maximize the training opportunity we have when new volunteers come on board.