How to Onboard and Retain Volunteers

Jordan Martinez

How to Onboard and Retain Volunteers

Jordan Martinez

Let’s take a look at volunteer onboarding.

Once you have a great group of volunteers it’s time to get them started. A formal onboarding process can save you a lot of time and headache down the road. Making sure your volunteers feel comfortable from start to finish is the most important part of the volunteer onboarding process. 


In order to create a great onboarding experience make sure to keep communication at the forefront of your ministry. Volunteers are giving their time in order to help your ministry, make sure communication is constant and clear. Some ideas for communicating with your volunteers include; hosting a volunteer welcome event, sending out a welcome email, or coordinating a zoom call to make sure everyone gets introduced to each other. 

Screen your volunteers

Meeting new volunteers in person and making sure they are fit for the role is necessary, but have you ever considered background screening your volunteers? Background screens can help you match volunteers with the right ministry especially if the ministry deals with money, the elderly, or children. If you are interested in screening volunteers or future church staff make sure you search for a credible background provider. Checkr serves more than 8,000 faith ministries across the country, Checkr also integrates with several ChMS platforms such as, PushPay, and Planning Center. Download the Beginners Guide to Background Checks for Faith Communities to learn more about the ins and outs of screening volunteers. 

Grace and safety for volunteer screening

More often than not when a person hears the words “background screening” they usually think “Oh No! I hope I come back clear”. Background screens don’t have to be a scary moment for individuals. Using the correct background screening technology can actually help folks who may have a criminal record. For instance, Checkr uses AI-powered technology to open doors for individuals who may have a criminal record. Using this type of technology can allow a church or non-profit to set filter criteria that are consistent with their organization’s mission. Checkr likes to call this type of screening “fair chance hiring”. If you are interested in learning more about “fair chance hiring” check out this blog

Communication, background screening, and meeting your volunteers in person are a couple of ways you can make the volunteering experience more enjoyable. Taking the time to onboard volunteers correctly can also help you retain volunteers. 

Now that you have a core team of volunteers, you may want to consider ways to retain them so you don’t have to go through the headache of finding more great volunteers. 


Let’s take a closer look at tips on how to retain your volunteers


Volunteers sometimes don’t know the ins and outs of interacting with a certain population of people, such as kids. Make sure you take time to give your volunteers a training shift. It is the worst to try and figure out how to do a job you were never trained on. 


Point of Contact

It’s always awkward when you show up to a new job and have absolutely no idea who to talk to or where to go. Make sure you avoid awkward interactions with volunteers by giving them a point of contact, someone on site who will greet them when they arrive and make sure they understand the assignment for the day.


Share Important Information

People, in general, are motivated when they see numbers and impacts that directly correlate with their stewardship of time, talent, or treasure. Continuously inspire your volunteers by sharing impact information. For example; if a volunteer project goal was to feed 1,000 homeless people make sure you communicate the results of the project. Did the volunteers help exceed the goals? What’s next with that ministry? When it comes to volunteering, sharing impactful data can make a difference especially when a volunteer is new to your organization. 


Following an effective volunteer recruitment, onboarding, and retainment process can lead to volunteer satisfaction. Now that we have covered some of the key elements of making a great volunteer program, it’s time to hit the ground running. Don’t forget to monitor the practices you are using in your volunteer program and give yourself the grace you need to tweak these practices when you see fit. Happy Volunteering!


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