Training volunteers in single mom’s ministry is critical to your long-term success. Volunteers are the catalyst behind any effective ministry, nonprofit, or church. They extend the work, the reach, beyond just the doors of the facility. They talk about the work with their families. They advertise for you. They are passionate and work hard because of it. They bring excitement and energy and working body parts, so that you don’t have to be and do it all!
Volunteers leave organizations for many reason. Sometimes, they simply move into a new life season that requires more time of them, such as having a newborn, acquiring a new job, or having work-related travel obligations. However, many volunteers leave their positions, because they feel they are under-valued, under-trained, or under-utilized. Therefore, it is important that we train volunteers well and use them effectively. Here are a few tips to do just that.
- Get to know your volunteers. How many children do they have? Where do they work? What are they passionate about? What is their cat’s name? What compelled them to be involved in volunteerism to single mothers in the first place? What is their story? People want to know you care. They want to know they aren’t just a number. The more strengthened your relationships within your volunteer team, the more likely they are to stay in it for the long haul.
- Learn the skill set of your volunteers. Maybe you have an immediate need for data entry at your organization and someone steps forward to do that. That’s great. And yes, we need people to be flexible in their desires to serve. However, if we make the intentional effort of learning the skill set of the volunteer that serves, we may find that they are gifted in graphic design, Bible teaching, website development, praying for others, social media, organization, event planning, etc. We suggest getting a resume on every volunteer to help us with this task or developing a volunteer skills assessment form. Volunteer opportunities within your single moms ministry can include: Greeters Team, Social Media, Prayer, Food Team, Set-up & Clean-Up, Hospitality Team to follow up with new attendees, Small Group Facilitators as the Group Grows, Childcare Workers, and so many more. The more the merrier. (Note: Yes, you can use single moms as volunteers! We are often asked can you place single moms in volunteer or leadership positions! Yes, it’ll give them a reason to come back time and again!)
- Have a plan. Please, please, please, have a plan. Don’t be scattered and stretched and running from thing to thing. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Use your volunteers and have a plan. Have you ever volunteered with a church or at an event with dozens of other people? Maybe there was a big push to get volunteers at this big 5K Fundraising Event and so you showed up and found that most of your time was spent standing around with nothing to do. Ugh. I have volunteered countless times when I literally was digging for something to do. Don’t let this be your volunteers. Thoroughly plan the needs you have for your program. Do you need more prayer warriors? Babysitters? Food service team? Facebook gurus? Set-up and Clean-up Help? Whatever your needs are, have them listed. Assign volunteer coordinators and leaders to different teams to help with organization.
- Praise your volunteers. People go where they are valued. Take time to take them to dinner or lunch. Text them to check on them. Take time to host a private lunch for them. Call them. Host a small recognition ceremony, dinner, or meal. Let them know that their service is important to your ministry. Even a thank you letter or encouraging words will go a long way with letting them know that yes, indeed, their work does make a difference!
- Share success stories. Read a letter that a single mom wrote you about how the ministry has changed her life. Share instances where you’ve witnessed spiritual growth in a single mom’s walk with the Lord. Volunteers want to know that the work they are doing is meaningful to those they are serving.
- More IS merrier. Never, never, never tell a potential volunteer that you have nowhere to use them. When someone asks if they can help, always tell them yes. Sometimes this volunteer opportunity is the very thing they need to move into a leadership role. Maybe it is the very thing God has called them to do. Maybe this volunteer was called to launch a single moms program in another church and this service will give them the confidence to do so. Volunteering gives value. Don’t miss an opportunity to bless someone else with the opportunity to serve. Also, sometimes people ask if they can volunteer, because they are nervous about coming to a single mom’s support group alone or worry they don’t have a place in the collective body of Christ. Volunteering for your group may give them purpose and plant them more deeply in your church community.
- Use single mom volunteers. We are often asked if all volunteers need to be recruited from outside the ministry. Definitely not! Single moms can serve in a variety of areas. Their service often gives them a reason to keep coming, as they know others are counting on them to be part of the greeters team or food team for the night. They can be used in a variety of ways, just like all volunteers.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com