Except for the local Walmart, most grocery stores have moved away from white linoleum tiles, narrow aisles of metal shelves with products stacked floor to ceiling and blindingly bright florescent lights. (There is a whole generation of kids who are growing up who don’t remember the Safeways of the 80s or telephones with cords. It’s tragic and this whole illustration will be meaningless to them.)
The millennial grocery stores contain coffee shops and faux wood floors, lights are dimmed for ambiance and there are things that are there just to make other things look good. Grocery stores no longer offer just a service—a place to get food—they offer an experience. My wife will by-pass the Ralph’s down the street to go to a Ralph’s across town because of the experience. The selection and the prices are the same, but the experience is different.
A volunteer experience has less to do with peripherals and more to do with a volunteer’s sense of significance, confidence and accomplishment.
It’s no longer a matter of whether our ministries will provide an experience or not. Our ministries do offer an experience—it’s either a good experience or a bad experience. While grocery stores may build the customer experience off of peripherals like lights, wood floors and wider aisles, a volunteer experience has less to do with peripherals and more to do with a volunteer’s sense of significance, confidence and accomplishment.
Significance comes from making a clear connection between the role a volunteer fills and how it fulfills the mission. Confidence comes from training and coaching. And it comes from celebrating what God is doing in the life of a child or student. Accomplishment comes from seeing God use you to change another person’s life.
Four steps to creating a great volunteer experience:
- Train them
- Coach them
- Promote them
- Celebrate them
For more, read the book from which this article was adapted: Helped Wanted: Get Keep and Grow New Volunteers by Damon DeLillo. Used by permission. Available from ChurchGrowth.org.