the small things really really matter

i’m convinced that when it comes to caring for volunteers, the small things really really matter.

usually when we think about celebrating or shepherding volunteers we consider big things: a year end party, a meaningful gift, words in a card or praise on stage in front of the whole church. while all of these things are great i think we make more of a positive impact on a volunteer when we are consistent with the small things. and the same is true when we are inconsistent in the small things – a volunteer who is consistently frustrated by the small things is not going to have a change of heart when a big celebration comes along and the leader is ready to publicly sing his praise.

consider these ideas for stepping up your “smaller” game.

1. spell volunteers’ names correctly (i’m not joking) – this is especially important when printing a volunteer’s name badge that he/she will have to wear every sunday. i experienced this with a volunteer recently and you should have seen the look of disappointment on her face when she saw her name tag. i offered to fix it and she said, “no, that’s ok, i’ll make do with this.” it broke my heart. this is worth taking the time to get right.

2. pronounce volunteers’ names correctly (again, not a joke) – i get it, some names are really hard to pronounce. my maiden name is wulbecker (wool-becker) but it is so meaningful when someone says your name correctly. and there’s no shame in asking someone how to say her name.

3. follow through on previously made arrangements – for example: if a volunteer is leaving work early to pick up materials at church to help out with the program, make sure the materials are there on time and in the correct location! a volunteer will only offer to help a few times before realizing that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

4. email and return calls immediately – i believe volunteers should always be treated as vips. when you see a volunteer’s email in your inbox, move it up to high priority and reply as soon as possible. the same goes for phone calls.

so here is the basic equation:

small ways of valuing volunteers + consistency = happy volunteers who feel honored!

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