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Holding Volunteers Accountable


One of the greatest challenges of any organization that depends on volunteers is how do you hold those volunteers accountable? Since they are volunteers, the attitude is often “if we hold them accountable, they will quit”. The truth is just the opposite. If we don’t hold them accountable, we send the message that the job they have volunteered for is really not important.

The best person to hold a volunteer accountable is the volunteer leader on whose team they serve, rather than a staff person. It is this person who they interact with on a regular basis. They are also the first one to know when a volunteer drops the ball. And lastly, it is volunteer to volunteer which is much more powerful that when a paid staff person is involved.

Here are 4 keys to holding volunteers accountable:

1. Make sure that all expectations are very clear. When they are recruited, give them those expectations in writing. It is very difficult to add to those expectations after the fact. Don’t make it too complicated. Just deal with the basics. Beyond the spiritual requirements your church might require for any volunteer, you might ask your volunteers to commitment to:
A. Serve your time, on time!
B. Respond to your scheduling system. (Such as planning center.)
C. Get your own replacement
D. ……………

2. Promise them accountability from the beginning. Let them know that they will be held accountable from the very moment you recruit them. This eliminates surprises when you have to have that conversation. It also helps to establish the importance of their job.

3. Respond quickly. Don’t put it off. The goal of holding someone responsible is not to rebuke or chastise, but to affirm and challenge. It lets the person know they are valued and their place of service is important. When it becomes evident that a team member is either very late or a “no show”, some of our leaders will text them with “Are you close?”, “Who did you get to serve for you today?” or “Is everything ok?”.

4. Follow through! Don’t let it slide. If you promise accountability from the beginning, it is imperative you provide accountability. Three things a meeting or phone call about accountability does:
A. Confronts: Make sure volunteer agrees he/she did not come through. Make
sure it was not a miscommunication or other “technical” issue.
B. Coach: Use it as a teaching opportunity on the role their responsibility has in
accomplishing the vision God has given your church.
C. Compliment: Affirm the volunteer. Let them know what they do right and
how much they mean to the organization.

The stronger your accountability strategy, the more committed your volunteers!

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