The holiday season is fast approaching and with it, plenty of opportunities for engaging your faith community in volunteer opportunities. Even in the busy-ness of the holidays, many will make time to give back through volunteering. Volunteering has many proven benefits, not just to the organization, but to the volunteer as well, so be sure to make the experience sparkle for your event. Here are a few ideas to make volunteering with your organization a gift. Remove the fear of the unexpected Clearly state the nature of the volunteer experience, the time commitment, start and end times, the skills needed (if any), specifics for parking, building entry, etc., and details on if supplies are provided. Cast a vision for how this opportunity changes lives and impacts the community. Share about the number of people involved and the need that is being met. This often will pull people out of their comfort zone to pitch in. Check out ways to design an electronic sign-up form that allows you to specify different types of volunteer activities and the number of each needed. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate Have a plan for confirmation, follow-up, and reminders ready, as well as a back up plan when something unexpected happens. What does the volunteer need to know at time of sign-up? How often do you want to touch base before the event? What is your day of reminder? Using automation is a great way to manage all these details. If you have an electronic signup form – set-up the email confirmation from the start with everything the volunteer will need to know. (Learn how to use Form Properties Emails in our Form Builder) Grouping these volunteers in your People database or Church Management System can streamline communication, follow-up and more. Encourage Bringing a Friend (or the Family)! For first-time volunteers, bringing someone they know ensures they don’t feel like to odd one out in a new space and it may introduce a new person to the ministry. Consider how the whole family (seniors, adults, teens, and children) can serve side-by-side. Creating community is crucial to a healthy ministry. Volunteer opportunities are a great soft intro for your engaged members to use to bring a friend, too. It can be less intimidating than coming to a worship experience for a first-time visitor. Make the Experience Seamless If you are organizing this, try to walk through it with someone unfamiliar with the event so they can help you pinpoint what might be missing. Consider sign-up, day of reminder, where to park, what door to enter. Do you want/need a welcome table/check-in? What directional signs would be good? Will organizers be easily identifiable for questions (matching shirts or colors)? What supplies and station set-up will make the experience smoother? Plan for connection during the event Events can get busy, and as the organizer you may be pulled in 100 directions but being intentional to either check on or have someone designated to check on each volunteer fosters community and care. Maybe a volunteer needs a break, water or a chair, asking them before they have to ask you shows how much you value them. Name tags seem old-fashioned, but they are a great way to ease connections and quickly identify volunteers from participants in some settings. Design Time for a Group Opening or Wrap-Up This may vary by event, but having a moment where all your volunteers are together seeing each other, connecting to the mission, saying a word of prayer or high-fiving a job well done build camaraderie and a sense of greater purpose. Say “Thank you”! Yes, you will say thank you a million times during the event, but a purposeful note after the event goes a long way. This may be a text message at the end of the night (you can even schedule it in advance). It may be a handwritten note or a call from the coordinator. However simple it may seem; it is a simple gesture that goes a long way. Be sure to include information on the next opportunity. Bringing others into the Kingdom work you are doing is a gift to both the organization and the volunteer. Share the joy this season and design an opportunity that shines.