Have you ever considered the untapped volunteer potential sitting in your church pews every Sunday? Every parish needs the usual roster of ushers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, music ministers and sacristans. But those aren’t volunteer positions that fit every person’s skill set or state in life; not to mention that a modern parish — with a website, Facebook page, e-communication and online giving platforms — has administrative and practical needs that far exceed Sunday morning.
Instead of only sending out the call for the usual suspects, it’s time to focus on expanding our view of volunteerism and recruit parishioners to help in evangelizing in other crucial ways, both inside and outside our walls. Here are just a few scenarios you may not have considered
- Does your parish have tech-savvy webmasters and video production coordinators who would love to lend their expertise to produce content for the capital campaign or school auction, or to help staffers better understand their increasingly digital workspaces? Where are the IT experts who can help your parish improve its technology systems?
- Are there marketing experts, writers, photographers or other media mavens in your pews who could participate in or even spearhead new communications initiatives?
- Who are the parishioners with a background in human resources who would make a valuable asset to the personnel committee?
- Are there gardening enthusiasts or interior designers who could help enhance the church environment for holy days?
- Where are your teachers and your parents who could help with religious education?
Think Outside the Box
Gather some stakeholders from within your parish — both paid staff, lay leadership and volunteers — and have a brainstorming session to assess the voids in stewardship that could be filled by well-equipped volunteers. Chances are, there are more opportunities than you realize: never before has so much been asked of parish staff members, who are often working to juggle virtual and in-person programming while budgets shrink and job responsibilities grow. Ask staffers to give you a “wish list” — identifying parts of their job with which they could use an extra hand. Use it as a jumping-off point for drawing up a master list of unmet needs that the parish has.
Update Databases — and Perceptions!
Many Catholics have an outdated understanding of what types of volunteers a parish needs. They simply might not envision themselves as volunteers or think that their gifts would be of use to the community — unless you broaden their perception, that is. Help your parishioners to better understand the needs of your parish, and spur them to reflect on what they might have to offer.
Some ways to get people thinking about how their own skills can benefit their parish family:
- Pass out questionnaires inquiring about their skills, interests and hobbies, and have them return via the collection plate. This questionnaire could easily be emailed to recipients in the parish database as well.
- Consider writing up very general “job descriptions” or “help wanted ads” in the bulletin to help people understand what’s needed.
- Create a space on the parish website for volunteer positions that need to be filled, and post about them via social media — perhaps one of your parishioners knows someone outside of the parish family who would have just the skill set you need.
Don’t Compromise Standards
Just because you’re broadening your horizons when it comes to what kind of expertise volunteers can provide, you don’t have to lower your standards when it comes to accepting volunteers. Remember to look for individuals who exhibit high standards of responsibility and a desire to help the parish thrive.
Now that you have a way to find volunteers, read up on ways to properly train them by checking out the blog, “Why Your Parish Needs A Volunteer Onboarding Process.”