Health and Growth

This 7-Step Church Volunteer Management Strategy Makes Everything Run Smoother

Managing groups of volunteers can be chaos. Make it simple, easy, and effective with this 7-step strategy.

This 7-Step Church Volunteer Management Strategy Makes Everything Run Smoother
by

Paul Maxwell

People in your church are busy.

It’s a Herculean task to get them to be church volunteers.

They don’t want to give it to your pet ministry.

They want it to meet their idea of ministry, which rarely lines up with the church’s needs.

Even if you can get volunteers, you still need to recruit them, make them competent, track their progress and consistency, and coordinate and communicate the event details every single week.

Below is a proven, effective 7-step strategy to make the entire project of church volunteer management as easy as pushing a button.

If you use this 7-step strategy as your protocol for church volunteer scheduling, recruitment, and training, you will have the ability to reduce the time and energy spent on church volunteer management.

1. Get a Church Volunteer Management Software

This is not negotiable.

Stop using Google Docs to manage everything.

Stop using sticky notes, pen and paper, emails to yourself, and task lists.

The best church volunteer management software that exists is Tithe.ly Church Management.

Tithe.ly ChMS allows you to organize people into three groups:

  • Super Administrator
  • Church Leader
  • Volunteer

As a pastor, you would log in as a Super Administrator. You are able to visualize everything from your desktop and phone.

Then, you would have all users register through the custom church app (which Tithe.ly builds for you). They would add their names, phone numbers, and addresses.

Delegate groups leaders as “church leaders” and put volunteers into custom groups, such as:

  • “Wednesday Homeless Ministry”
  • “Tuesday Night Small Group at the Smiths”
  • “Adult Sunday School”
  • “Membership Class”

As a Super Administrator or Church Leader, you can communicate with everyone via SMS text messages, push notifications, or emails to a particular group.

Users can also check the app to find event details, update their attendance status, and even check in for the event in real time.

Don’t recruit volunteers until you have Tithe.ly ChMS.

And if you already have volunteers, getting Tithe.ly ChMS for your church is your first order of business.

2. Recruit

No church volunteer management app will help your ministry grow if you don’t have any volunteers.

You need to recruit volunteers using at least two primary strategies:

  1. Ask for volunteers from the main stage
  2. Approach members one-on-one and ask them to volunteer.

Do both of these things.

Every ministry should have a marketing strategy, which includes:

  1. recruitment goal (10 volunteers for Weekly Soup Kitchen)
  2. timeline (4 weeks)
  3. week-to-week script (“We’re two weeks away. If you’re still on the fence, consider this…”)
  4. communications plan (Weekly email, inclusion in church newsletter, a pitch for why people should volunteer, ideal volunteers, and particular jobs for which people would be well suited).

If this is your first time undertaking a major recruitment effort, use these tips to maximize the number of volunteers and their buy-in.

A. Prioritize feeling over thinking

The key to getting recruits is simple:

Show, don’t tell.

This doesn’t mean give people a PowerPoint presentation.

This means:

Find a way for prospective church volunteers to experience the meaningfulness of the ministry first-hand.

Instead of saying, “We need help in our Soup Kitchen!” say, “Let me tell you about Bob. Bob lost everything to alcohol. We see him weekly. We need people who know how to cook, how to serve, and how to put on a happy face for people who are down on their luck.”

B. Make volunteer signup very easy.

Don’t let your call-to-action be, “If you’re interested, talk to one of our deacons in the back.”

If this is your call-to-action, you will compromise 90% of your church volunteer recruiting potential.

Make volunteer signup this simple: Register for our volunteer initiation meeting next Sunday with the form under your seat or on our app.

Concrete. Straightforward. Simple. Easy to complete.

Pro tip: This is why you need to have Tithe.ly ChMS before you start recruiting—otherwise, you will lose out on potential volunteers signing up to help.

3. Verify

Make sure that all of your volunteers who work with children undergo the appropriate background checks.

In order to run a background check, you must receive written consent from your volunteer.

Introduce this background check as a small formality so as not to scare off potential volunteers.

You can use one of the Background Check Authorization forms from eForms to give to volunteers to complete.

Then, hire a Consumer Reporting Agency to run a background check for you.

It’s important that you don’t administrate a background check yourself.

A professional CRA will know how to comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act so that you are protected from liability against people who suspected they were discriminated against because of some information that was found.

This step is not necessary for all volunteers, but it is certainly necessary for any volunteers who work with children. If you don’t do this as a consistent practice, the integrity of your children’s ministry volunteers is compromised. This is a foundational practice that should come before a single volunteer is hired.

With Tithe.ly ChMS, we make it easy for you to keep track of background checks in your church. Here’s how.

4. Train

Don’t expect people to just show up and know what to do.

There are two kinds of training you can implement in your church.

The first kind of training is a generic “Church Volunteers Introduction” course that you can run twice per year for all volunteers. Make it a required course for all volunteers within six months of their starting to volunteer at the church so they can know what the church’s vision for volunteering is.

It’s important that volunteers be on the same page, not only about the protocol of the ministry in which they are volunteering, but also about the message that the church wants to send collectively through volunteers.

In one sense, a church should be thankful that anyone wants to volunteer.

And yet, a church shouldn’t let just anyone show up and put on the church’s t-shirt as a greeter.

Volunteers represent the church.

Make sure that you train these representatives to actually represent the church’s intended mission, belief, and welcoming and service strategies.

The second kind of training is ministry-specific training.

Ministry-specific training gives people a common protocol for doing ministry. Even veterans should attend training for a new ministry. Most volunteers have ministry experience, but that doesn’t eliminate the need to get everyone on the same page.

Training isn’t a condescending way to insist that veteran volunteers don’t know what they’re doing. It’s an opportunity to get everyone on the same page.

5. Check-in

Need help tracking your volunteers?

You can use church volunteer scheduling software to make this process a snap.

Make sure each of your designated leaders and volunteers has downloaded the church app that comes with Tithe.ly ChMS. This should be done during all Church Volunteer Training meetings and ensured during all monthly check-ins.

Then, make sure that it becomes consistent protocol that every time someone shows up to volunteer, they check in with your app.

This should be enforced fairly strictly — at the very least, your volunteers should check in to protect them and you from any liability that comes from their volunteering at your events.

Use this check-in protocol as a way to manage which volunteers need to receive updates about events they missed, who is consistent, what prayer requests are needed, and how volunteering health can be coordinated with the broader mission of the church to make disciples and serve the surrounding community.

6. Regular non-event ministry meetings

Meet monthly to raise praises, prayers, and incidents contained in a particular volunteer group.

Turn praises into recruitment pitches for volunteers.

Turn prayer needs into motivation for current volunteers to recruit more.

Turn incidents into lessons learned for improvement.

7. Send

Turn volunteers into recruiters for the same ministry.

This automates your role as a leader and allows you to focus on recruiting for and optimizing existing ministries.

At your regular non-event ministry meetings, remind volunteers of needed skills and labor, and ask them to actively recruit candidates in the church.

Explain to them that when they seek to recruit someone else for the team, they should download your church app that comes with Tithe.ly ChMS and use that as a way for you to touch base with them about the possibility of volunteering on your specific ministry team.

Over to you

Managing church volunteers is very simple:

You need to start with church volunteer management software.

Otherwise, people will feel like you’re bootstrapping something that is not legitimate.

Using software adds legitimacy, efficiency, effectiveness, and longevity to your ministry.

You need Tithe.ly ChMS to manage your church volunteers.

If you’re not using Tithe.ly ChMS, you’re sliding into an inefficient, time-wasting ministry strategy that will yield a sub-par quality of volunteer relationships that your volunteers will feel.

People want to be part of something that looks and feels well-resourced and well managed.

If you use Google Docs and Gmail to coordinate all of your ministries, you will fail to achieve this bar. You will be compromising your ability to recruit, train, and mobilize well.

Utilize this 7-step protocol:

  1. Get Tithe.ly ChMS
  2. Recruit
  3. Verify
  4. Train
  5. Check-in
  6. Meet
  7. Send

If you do this, the quality of your volunteers will increase and the buy-in from your church will skyrocket.

Author: Paul Maxwell, Ph.D., is the Content Strategist at Tithe.ly. He lives in Fishers, IN with his beautiful wife and rowdy wheaten terrier.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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This 7-Step Church Volunteer Management Strategy Makes Everything Run Smoother