Last year around this time my days were packed from what felt like dawn ’til dusk with staff meetings.
We were racking our brains trying to figure out how we could blow the doors off the church and get our volunteers to come to the often dreaded volunteer orientation meeting.
I wasn’t alone. I’ve talked to a ton of church leaders who agree that getting volunteers to attend orientation is one of the most difficult tasks they perform every year.
Think about it. There are so many administrative details to share with our volunteers; laws require we prepare volunteers for whatever might happen and prevent the unthinkable from happening. There are policies to go over, a handbook, procedures, mission and vision, there is so much to share in such a short time that we can get bogged down in the details and forget to talk about FUN!
Remember, we are calling people to one of the most exciting areas in our churches! Be mindful of making even the mandatory meetings reflect the spirit of excitement. If you want people to come, you have to build hype and make it fun.
Here are a few simple ideas to infuse your volunteer orientations with fun to entice your volunteers to show up:

1. Make it a “kick-off” rather than “orientation”

Often just leaving off the word “orientation” helps people feel more compelled to not want to miss out on being a part of the celebration. Not all of your volunteers are serving for the first time. Using a word like “orientation” makes it sound like if you’ve served before, you don’t need to attend.

A kick-off is an event that builds momentum for everyone who has served whether it’s been for 15 minutes or for 15 years. This is a time where people come together for a time of vision casting, team building, and just plain FUN!

2. Turn the policy manual into a script

OK, not literally, but stay with me. Last Fall, we wrote sketches for a few of the major policies in our handbook: Dress code fashion show, stranger danger and what to do, Don’t call us Sunday morning from a Florida vacation, and checking in the kids NOT playing Angry Birds. Everyone laughed, AND they got the point.

Whether you do this with your volunteer handbook, classroom rules, or small group training, be sure to keep it light. Your volunteers will enjoy themselves, you’ll keep their attention, and they will remember the important material you presented.

3. Throw a Party

Dustin Nickerson, Children’s Pastor at Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, WA, told me how the parents at his church went all out to celebrate volunteers.

We often think celebration should happen at the end of the year, but for Dustin, he knew his volunteers deserved appreciation in advance for the commitment they were making. Through shoulder-tapping and social media, he enlisted the help of some parents who took care of all the celebration’s logistics by organizing door prizes, fancy desserts, and team building!

This is a great example of turning a volunteer kick-off Orange! Parents had a chance to appreciate the volunteers who serve their kids, and volunteers were able to see the impact they’re making in the lives of families. Dustin said that his volunteers couldn’t say enough positive comments about this event. They will be buzzing about this event to their friendsfor months, and by doing so, others will want to volunteer too.

Those are just three of my ideas for turning an orientation into a kick-off party, what have you done to infuse fun into your volunteer kickoffs?