When preparing for a big event, be that opening your church every day, or a one-off opening ceremony party, it’s easy to feel daunted by the task ahead. A well-coordinated team of staff and volunteers can make all the difference, giving flexibility and expertise to help things run smoothly.
Making it easy to volunteer
To make it easier for people to give their time to your project, start by making it clear what you’re asking of them. Work out why you want to involve volunteers – is it to widen the skills in your team, to involve a more diverse group of people, to provide extra ‘muscle’, or to do a specific role like managing the budget or setting up the technical equipment?
Work out what each role involves – making a ‘SMART’ description if possible. ‘Face-painter needed for 5-11s area from 3-5pm on 11 August’ is far easier to sign up to than ‘Sign up if you can help at the church fête’, because people can work out whether the role is a realistic fit for the skills and time they have. If they are away on holiday during your event, they may still be able to help by fundraising, baking, making decorations, or distributing publicity, so don’t discount their offers of time.
Think carefully about how you’ll manage the volunteers you’ve not worked with before, particularly if you’re looking outside your congregation for help. Consider how you’ll integrate them into an existing team, help familiarise them with your church, and how to thank them afterwards. A single point of contact who can liaise with and greet new volunteers on the day, work out where their skills would fit best, and introduce them to team leaders could help you to use their time really well.
There are lots of online resources about good practice when recruiting and managing volunteers – I’d recommend the ‘As good as they give’ workbooks from ‘Volunteer Now’.
Where to recruit your volunteers
Assuming you’ve asked through all your usual volunteer networks – church, community groups, neighbours in your deanery and ecumenical groups – here are some places you may find the extra help you’re after:
Friends from across London
If you’ve got links through friends with other churches in London, it’s worth picking up the phone to see if they can help by sending a team. In particular, suburban churches in Spelthorne, Hillingdon, Barnet and Enfield are quite a long way from any Olympic events, so those with a heart for reaching visitors may enjoy helping in a more central church.
Inviting members of the2012
A few weeks ago, over 2000 of us got together at St Paul’s Cathedral, to be commissioned as Ambassadors for Christ in London. This group of 13-35s have been trained in how to know, live and share the gospel, and are connected through facebook and twitter. Some are in youth groups of under 18s, others are independent 18-35 year olds.
If you have a project that could use extra volunteers, then register it by sending a copy of this spreadsheet to me (Email: elizabeth,harrison [at] london.anglican.org).
Inviting an International Mission Team
Back in November I wrote about International Mission Teams. If you would like to welcome one of these teams to work alongside you, this Host Pack and Application Form will help you. The teams are typically 5-20 adults, available between July and September. Over 1000 team members are coming to London from across the world, and teams bring expertise in sport mission, creative arts, holiday clubs, working with youth, or just getting stuck in and helping. The application process is administrated by More than Gold.
If you’d like to volunteer:
The Olympics and Paralympics bring a great opportunity to work together in mission, to support each other in outreach and hospitality. There are all sorts of parishes where extra volunteers are needed, so a chance to visit and minister in a parish that’s completely different to the one you’re from. If you could bring a team of five or more, contact me (Email: elizabeth,harrison [at] london.anglican.org) to join the volunteering mailing list.