3 Types of Follow Up Needed After Volunteer Training Events

This post is part of a series on 7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System.

In the previous post I wrote about the best way to encourage volunteers to attend training events. The personal invite on the front end is critical, but follow up after events is important as well. There are 3 different types of follow up we have used after training events, with different purposes for each.

Follow Up With Attenders

One follow up needed is with those who attended the training. The purpose of this follow up is to thank them for attending, provide notes for what was covered, and point to anything you may have asked them to do coming out of the meeting.

Follow Up With Those Who Missed (but RSVP’d)

No matter how great your volunteer trainings are, everyone isn’t going to show up. There will always be legitimate reasons why people can’t attend. These will be the folks who RSVP and say they won’t be able to attend, but you’ll also have people who RSVP “yes”, but they let you know last minute they won’t be able to attend. The purpose of follow up here is to fill them in on everything they missed and let them know they were missed.

Follow Up With Those Who Didn’t RSVP

300Unfortunately you’ll usually have volunteers who don’t RSVP at all, despite even asking them personally if they plan to attend. The purpose of following up with them is to find out what was going on. In our case, we don’t share information about what happened at the training with our first follow up with them. We simply contact them and let them know they were missed, and ask if everything is okay. Once we hear from them and hear what happened, then we can follow up like we would with information from the meeting.

Follow up is important in volunteer trainings because it allows us to re-communicate what was shared and let people know they were missed. If people don’t think they’re missed, they’ll continue to miss out on training events you plan.

What does your follow up system look like?

The Best Way to Encourage Volunteers to Attend Training Events

This post is part of a series on 7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System.

A volunteer training system isn’t very effective if only a small percentage of your team participates in trainings. In talking with other ministry leaders, it’s easy to see that many leaders struggle with this and wish they had greater participation.

Important Correlation

There’s an important correlation I’ve noticed in relation to this, and maybe you have too. I have noticed that the larger the volunteer role is in terms of commitment, the more likely they are to attend training events. Conversely, the lighter, easier, or less frequent a volunteer’s role is, the less likely they are to be involved in trainings regularly. Therefore, one way to ensure volunteers to attend training events more regularly is to raise the bar in terms of role expectations, but that’s another post for another day.

The Best Way to Encourage Volunteers to Attend

youreinvitedWe’ve found the best way to motivate volunteers to attend is through a personal invite. Many of you reading this have hundreds of volunteers, and you can’t imagine personally inviting all of them to a training event. That’s okay, because you shouldn’t. Every volunteer’s point leader should personally invite them, because they have the existing relationship and influence.

Our Invite System

I do think your system of inviting volunteers to attend trainings should include much more, but the personal invite must be part of the plan. In our case, the personal invite happens late in the process. Our system includes:

  • Putting the date in front of volunteers at least 6-8 weeks out.
  • Inviting volunteers to attend using an e-vite (we’ve used multiple).
  • Point to it in every volunteer email until the event.
  • Follow up email weekly with those who have not RSVP’d.
  • Personal invite to anyone who hasn’t RSVP’d.

A key part of any training system includes events, gatherings, and opportunities where volunteers can learn and develop. A personal invite is not the easiest way to invite volunteers to attend, but it’s the best way to encourage them to.

There is another important relational component to motivating volunteers to attend training events, and we’ll look at that in the next post.

How do you invite volunteers to attend training events?

Four Types of Helpful Training Content for Ministry Volunteers

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This post is part of a series on 7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System.

Content is king

I don’t know where I heard that before, but I have certainly found it to be true. Andy Stanley and the North Point staff define an irresistible environment as one that has 3 things:

  • Appealing Context
  • Engaging Presentation
  • Helpful Content

I do believe an irresistible environment needs all 3, but people will put up with an average context and presentation if the content is excellent. A terrible context and presentation may distract them from ever receiving the content, so they can’t be neglected.

4 Types of Helpful Volunteer Training Content

When it comes to training volunteers, content is king there too. They’ll keep coming back for helpful content. Here are 4 types of helpful content to use in volunteer trainings.

Vision

Vision is helpful because it answers the question – Why? Why does our church exist? Why do we do children’s ministry or student ministry? Why do we need volunteers? Why do we do it this way? What we do and how we do it are important, but they engage the mind. Why engages the heart.

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In Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he asserts that people are motivated by 3 key factors, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Vision clarifies a volunteer’s purpose.

Strategy

Reggie Joiner says strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind. Strategy is how we accomplish our mission and vision. Strategy is a single term that encompasses a vast collection of systems and processes. Think of strategy as a map. You have a map for how to reach new students, how to disciple kids, how to partner with parents, how to care for leaders, and so on. When people understand your strategy better, they can do their part better as well. They can also champion it to others.

The more volunteers understand your strategy, the less they need to be managed. That helps them feel the autonomy Daniel Pink writes about.

Skills

Every volunteer role has a particular set of skills (not that kind) that would be ideal for someone to have if they want to thrive in that role. The ability to relate well to others, to coach, to organize, to teach, to provide technical support, to sing, etc. In Daniel Pink’s book, this would relate to mastery. People want to be good at what they do and help the ministry succeed in the process.

Leadership

There are a small number of volunteer roles that may appear to require very little leadership, but the vast majority of volunteer roles either require leadership or would be greatly improved through leadership growth. John Maxwell says “leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.

Every volunteer role has influence. It’s important to take time to train volunteers on how to grow their leadership ability and leverage the influence they have. Train them to replace themselves and mentor other leaders. Train them to use their influence with kids, students and parents to challenge and encourage them to take steps forward in their journey.

 

I find our training content typically falls in one of those categories, and we usually hit at least two at each training event.

What type of content do you train on?

How do you find and prepare training content?

 

Creating a Sustainable and Predictable Rhythm for Volunteer Trainings

This post is part of a series on 7 Keys to an Effective Volunteer Training System.

When our local children’s ministry network gathers, we almost always talk about how we train volunteers and what that looks like specifically for each of us. Everyone is interested in how they can have the best participation possible at their training events, and they know many factors are involved. On our end, we also want to make sure we can give the time and energy necessary to make those training opportunities worthwhile.

Here are some tips for creating a sustainable and predictable rhythm for volunteer trainings.

Determine how often training is needed

Our children’s ministry has 2 huge training events each year, while our student ministry gathers every other month. Each ministry has different needs based on a number of factors including team size, team experience, future plans, history in a specific strategy, etc.

Ask: How often do we need to train volunteers?

Figure out a set length of time for each training

The frequency of training events and how long each training lasts should work together. The more frequent the training, the shorter they can be. You can certainly change up the length of a training, but everyone likes some predictability in their experience.

Ask: How much time do we need to cover the most important elements?

Settle on days and times that get the best turnout

There probably won’t be one perfect day and time to have the training, except Sunday during a service and that presents its own challenges. We have found 2-3 options that work really well, and we choose which one based on the existing calendar, the length, and the format we plan to use.

Ask: What days and times seem to work best for the most people?

Land on some helpful formats

What will the training include? Will you serve food? How much time will be spent vision casting versus time spent in specific teams? These are all helpful questions to answer as you decide on a format that works best.

Ask: What formats provide the most help to every volunteer?

Assess how often you can pull of training events

It’s a must for us to train our volunteers throughout the year, but it’s also important to determine how often we can do that based on all the other demands on our time.

Ask: How many times a year can I lead a high-quality training event?

ElevateLogoWhiteBGWe have tried to make our volunteer training events regular and rhythmic, as well as predictable enough for people to feel comfortable attending. We also branded our training events with specific names (Equip and Elevate), just so volunteers know exactly what to expect when they see that name come up.

What rhythm do you have for volunteer training events?

3 Ways to Train Volunteers During the Onboarding Process

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).

Orientation

C3_kids_orientation

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.

Apprenticing

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.

How do you assimilate and train new volunteers?