March 2018 Workshop Recap

Lessons from Faith Communities on Engaging and Empowering Volunteers

Martha Frickert and Steve Booth gave an inspiring and informative talk titled Lessons from Faith Communities on Engaging and Empowering Volunteers. The presentation focused on three key points: Understanding the Faith Community; Identifying and Cultivating Volunteers; and Strategies for Recruiting Volunteers.

Steve and Martha shared the importance of understanding faith communities, and the language they use. They advised that congregations are emotional systems. Many of us were introduced to Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory, and emotional triangles. To cultivate leadership, it is important to understand the emotional “call” of your volunteer. Why are they volunteering? What do they hope to get out of the experience? Steve Booth explained that when reaching out to churches as a source for volunteers, it is important to know the congregation’s collective emotional “call”. That “call” is influenced by their local church culture. This includes their faith tradition, the history of their church, and their decision-making process. What is important to the church? What are their informing beliefs, principles and values? What is their mission/purpose? He stressed the importance of understanding their language. Steve went on to explain understanding what informs their faith helps to understand their “calling”, and how best to pair it with your corporate “calling” and mission.

Steve suggested that knowing what informs an individual’s faith is important for identifying and cultivating volunteers. Martha elaborated on this thinking by suggesting conversation with volunteers about which gifts (faith speak) they bring, or which skills, talents or interests (corporate speak) they have helps both parties find the best fit, or use of volunteers.

To best recruit volunteers from churches it is important the organization’s mission lines up with church’s mission. It was suggested that the best way to find churches with potential volunteers was to locate a volunteer in your organization who would champion your organization within their church. If they believe in your cause, and already volunteer, they will be a powerful advocate on your behalf.

Steve and Martha concluded their presentation by advising churches can also be a source of funding. Many larger churches have Endowment Funds, from which they draw scholarships or grant funding. They are usually smaller amounts, but have fewer restrictions.

Steve closed with dialogue suggestions to spark conversation at our April meeting. They are:

  1. Bring a faith community’s mission or purpose statement.
  2. Think of one or two faith communities that might be complimentary partners with your nonprofit.
  3. Who might be a “champion” to approach in those faith communities?

Here is a link to their presentation.

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