Health and Growth

Grow Faithful Church Volunteers: A Proven 5-Step Model

Need help getting more church volunteers? Here's a five-step model every church leader needs to employ to convert church attendants into active church volunteers.

Grow Faithful Church Volunteers: A Proven 5-Step Model
by

Paul Maxwell

Want to see a church leader turn into a ball of anxiety in 10 seconds?

Watch them recruit church volunteers.

The responses will turn any warm smile into a grimace.

  • “The church should pay for my passion project."
  • “How could you not have this ministry?"
  • “Why aren’t we doing it this way?”

Listen, I get it.

You need boots on the ground. Every church wants more volunteers. But you keep hitting obstacles that you don’t understand.

Here’s the deal:

If you don’t utilize the right tactics, you could end up with a lack of volunteers for necessary roles and a million small “ministries” that vacuum the church’s resources without any effect.

Here is a five-stage model every church leader needs to employ to convert church attendants into active church volunteers who buy in two the church’s vision.

1. Rank your volunteer needs

Make a ranked list from “Most Essential” to “Least Essential” ministries.

What good is a blooming flower arrangement committee when nobody is at the door to greet new visitors on Sunday morning?

What good is a thriving small group ministry when nobody is inviting those new visitors to the small groups?

Without a ranked list of ministries in order of priority, you could end up with nobody doing what the church needs, and a million little ministries that the church doesn’t need.

Divide your list into three sections:

  1. Infrastructure volunteers
  2. Optimization volunteers
  3. Outreach volunteers

Grow Faithful Church Volunteers: A Proven 5-Step Model

Infrastructure volunteers are the foundation of your church’s operations. If you’re compromising an infrastructure ministry for the sake of another ministry, you’re ultimately compromising both.

Infrastructure ministries include: Elders and deacons, greeting team, and follow-up team. Without these three volunteer teams in place, the church isn’t able to fulfill its essential mission—The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20):

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Optimization volunteers advance and enhance the influence of the infrastructure volunteers. These include small group ministries, Sunday school classes, hospital visitation, and coffee hour.

Outreach volunteers extend the influence of the infrastructure and optimization volunteers. These include prayer meetings, homeless outreach, missionary support, weekly meetings, and local church partnerships.

Many people have a passion for outreach ministries. But if you have your ministries ranked with this model, you can point to the basic infrastructure and optimization outreach of the church and say: “If you want to start an outreach ministry, we need your help in these more fundamental ministries first so that when we do outreach, we can do it excellently.”

2. Be transparent

Tell your church:

We have infrastructure needs.

A church that spends 20% of its budget on homeless ministry while it’s $500,000 in debt needs to re-prioritize their members’ resources toward solving infrastructure issues. If you’re misaligned in this area, just be honest and say: It’s a simple fix, and we need your help.

By the same token, you can make it your goal to start certain outreach ministries:

“We have a passion for sending out missionaries. Help us get there by volunteering at church on the greeting committee so that we can grow our church and grow our giving.”

Church members will buy into a model and a plan. If there’s no plan, people tend to see church volunteering as a way to get their church to sponsor their personal hobby. Instead, providing a transparent model of the church’s need shows them how their energies can be channelled to accomplish their vision for optimization in the long term.

Be clear. Make goals. Update with metrics. Even buy one of those “goal thermometers" that you fill in with red marker: “Once we hit this many members, we can make a plan to start ________ ministry.”

Everyone can buy into a transparent plan.

Make it. Preach it. Funnel your members’ energies into it.

3. Say “Yes” to everything

Leaders do their best to balance existing mission with fresh vision. But sometimes the church needs humble infantry who want to meet existing needs rather than rogue pilots distracting other peoples’ time and energy from the basics.

How could a leader possibly say “Yes” to everything? With his ranked model written down, and the needs of the church expressed clearly with that model to the church, a church leader is free to say “Yes” to everything as an outreach idea.

Here’s how the conversation can go:

Member:

“I want to start a pie baking ministry in the church for those who are sick. The church would pay for the ingredients and I would bake pies for members who are ill."

Church Leader:

“I love it! We need 3 more greeters on our welcome team for the next three months. Once we meet our membership goal, we will have the resources to invest in something like that. Keep honing this idea!”

Behind every impractical idea for church volunteering is a good passion that you should empower and equip. In front of every impractical idea for church volunteering exists a better, practical vision in which the church could partner. The church leader is responsible to facilitate growth from practicality to impracticality—from passion to vision to ministry to reality.

4. Train your volunteers

Training your volunteers accomplishes three things.

First, it weeds out fickle people who are energetic about an idea for 24 hours, but aren’t able to bring long-term consistency. If you have a “Volunteer Orientation Class,” you find out who’s committed enough to an idea to work through the proper channels of getting on the same page with the church.

Second, it allows people to see the real needs the church has in meeting its core mission. Someone might attend the class with an idea, only to experience God’s prompting to meet a need they didn’t know about (Philippians 4:19).

Third, it’s a way to invite more people to be church volunteers.  As a church leader, you don’t have to know everyone’s passion and gifting. If you are in need of volunteers, you can simply approach a member and say:

“I’d love you to come to our church volunteer class. You would make a great asset to our ________ team. We’d also love to hear your ideas for how to improve what we do."

5. Onboard volunteers with these scripts

Make it easier to onboard new volunteers with these scripts.

a. Church volunteers exist to solve real problems.

God intended every single Christian to bee a church volunteer: "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Why do people need to volunteer? Because “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

Behind every volunteer is a felt need in the church. Behind every infrastructure ministry is a real life problem God has ordained the church to address with the gospel.

  • Loneliness
  • Addiction
  • Marital problems
  • The financial burden of illness
  • The isolation and struggle of faith in new Christians
  • The needs of a church’s local community

Church volunteering isn’t about checking some administrative box. It’s about bringing the love of Christ to a hurting a broken world. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” What is Paul’s conclusion? “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31).

b. Church volunteers exist to fulfill the greatest commandment.

Church volunteers exist to fill God’s greatest commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Preach this to your members. Make this your recruitment rally cry: “Let’s fulfill God’s great commandment the way he intended: as the church. Not as a million rogue passions pulling us in different directions. But in concerted, focused, core ministries that are meant to grow a million blossoms.”

c. Church volunteering solves our addiction to selfie-ism.

In the church, before love can be long-lasting outreach, love needs to be infrastructure and optimization.

Be unapologetic when you recruit volunteers: "God calls us to a lot of boring ministries so that he can do exciting things through us.”

Volunteering in church is a way to get our own eyes off of ourselves. We tend think of volunteering like business—if we put in our time, we will “work our way up the ladder.”

What is the glory of working the same volunteer greeting post for 40 years? What is the glory of managing the “Gain” knob on the soundboard for 10 years?

Is it to be promoted? No. It is to play a part in God’s magnificent work of encountering and transforming people with the gospel of Jesus Christ: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).

Over to you

Don’t be scared of recruiting volunteers according to the needs of the church. God doesn’t just supply random gifts to the church. Instead, "my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

This is how church volunteers should think. “What does the church need?” The church isn’t a conduit for my individual mission. It’s a body that God has created through Christ. As a church leader, you don’t have to be apologetic about that.

Structure the needs.

Clearly present the needs.

Say “yes” to serving-oriented energy.

Create volunteer class.

Write down key scripts to sell people on volunteering for infrastructure needs.

When you lead your church volunteer recruitment with this kind of clarity, specificity, openness, and organization, you will create a culture of commitment and service in your church that nobody will want to miss out on.

There’s no better way to accomplish this than the Tithe.ly ChMS software. It allows groups in the church to gather, mobilize, and deploy to 10x ministry effectiveness. If you rely on some outdated technology like an annoying text thread or gmail chain, people will become lost and disillusioned with the ministries and vision of your church.

Use the Tithe.ly ChMS software to recruit, train, and deploy your volunteers to grow your church like a professional organization, rather than like grassroots bake sale.

Rank your ministries.

Be clear.

Be positive.

Train.

Persuade.

Start here.

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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Grow Faithful Church Volunteers: A Proven 5-Step Model