Recruiting volunteers can be as fun and easy as wrestling a crocodile at times. Churches want to involve young adults, but we don’t always know how. Maybe we invite them to volunteer at an event and are shocked when it’s just a few people who show up or when the group doesn’t want to come back again.
Here’s the thing – young adults want to help, but there are a few secrets that could help you with your recruiting success. As Christmas comes closer, recruiting volunteers becomes serious business. Here are some tips and secrets for recruiting young adults for your Christmas programs and services.
1. Make the “Ask” simple, yet compelling. If they don’t catch the vision, they’re not going to be interested in sacrificing their time to help. Make sure you communicate clearly what your event is, what help you need and why it matters.
Secret: Young adults are very mission-minded. If they catch your big vision and know they’ll be making a difference, you better bet you’ll have young adults eager to help at every event of yours.
2. Make the sign-up easy. You’ll want to make sure they’re committed, yes. But the sign-up process should be as simple and painless as possible. Send them all the information they need when they register and commit – no one likes being confused and left wondering what they’re doing or when and where to show up. Reminders are good too.
Secret: Young adults are tech savvy. A wonky sign-up system with twenty steps will be frustrating and could result in someone giving up before they’ve even begun.
3. Share leadership instead of assigning tasks. Young adults like to help, but don’t want to get stuck with a mindless task. Who would? Give them a role and challenge them with some responsibility while communicating expectations and ideal outcomes clearly. Allow them to partner with you and give them room to be creative.
Secret: Young adults are open to growth, leadership and mentoring. Some are good at initiating and looking for opportunities, while others may need to be invited and reminded the opportunities are available.
4. Give them the leisure of scheduling. Don’t assume because they’re in a college, young adult or singles group they have no life and have nothing better to do than to help at every event. Give them a heads up and some time to schedule volunteering. This is especially helpful if there will be meetings or trainings apart from the service or event itself.
Secret: Unless it’s a long-term role with growth opportunity, make volunteering as time efficient as possible. If you can send an email instead of having a meeting – do that. If you can make a couple calls instead of having a long training – do that too. I know some things require training, but for a one-time volunteer, keep it simple.
5. Don’t underestimate this age group. I led a young adults ministry at my church. It wasn’t easy, but the group was successful because of my team. I could partner with and lean on my team of volunteers. We were a group of young adults leading young adults, which was challenging, but together we did it. We believed in what we were doing, believed it was important for the church and filled a need for these people. We had fun together. We had great working relationships and great friendships on the team.
Secret: Young adults will commit long-term when they believe in something. This means they need you to cast vision, thank them often and give reminders. They will be drawn to community and friendship, leadership and growth opportunities.
6. Keep community in mind. Create a space for the college or young adults ministry to serve together as a group. Even serving in groups of three or four will make this more fun and attractive. They’re all about community. Help them invest in this.
Secret: Keep things fun. I know you’ve been working for months on this event. There’s been blood, sweat and tears poured into it. Some people will get this, but don’t take it to heart if others are not as invested as you. This is your job, your passion, your baby. Keep in mind some people will just be happy to help and content to leave when it’s all over. Let that be okay.
7. Encourage feedback. If you’ve been consistently working with a group of people or partnering with a mentee – Encourage them, thank them and give them feedback. Welcome and invite their feedback too! Chances are they’ll have some good insight into what would make the event smoother, stronger or more unique.
Secret: Doing this let’s young adults know they matter, their time matters and their voice matters. You might be surprised with the loyalty and respect that grows from a conversation where you seek their feedback and ideas.
Overall, assume young adults and college students are an asset. They will be drawn to serving where they know they are wanted and valued. They will happily sacrifice their time for an opportunity that fosters community, growth and leadership. Keep vision, community and fun in mind this holiday season, and you’ll have a fantastic team of young adults come your way to serve.
*Caveat; use your best judgment when recruiting and assigning roles and positions. Church brings out the best and the quirkiest. (Don’t judge me for saying it. We all know it’s true.) If someone is socially awkward, a greeting position is probably not the best fit for them. If someone is more interested in their ideas and agenda, then including them in debriefing or brainstorming meetings, is not a good idea, etc. You know what I mean … Happy recruiting!