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The Reason I Volunteer – Ashley

Ashley is next in the spotlight in our #TheReasonIVolunteer campaign.

This girl is a powerhouse in the most understated way possible. Not only does she work a full-time job at a church, but Ashley is currently finishing up her MBA as well. As an undergrad, Ashley majored in English and minored in Music. She volunteers at her church in the orchestra, playing the violin.

Here is Ashley’s WHY:

“I serve through the music ministry because God gave me a gift. Serving and sharing it with others is a way I say thank you to Him for giving it to me. The problem I sometimes have is forgetting who gets the glory. Usually, when I forget and get wrapped up in MY talent, He “allows” something to happen, like, my mic not to work for a spoken word-violin duo performance, or me completely forgetting what notes I’m supposed to be playing during a worship service. He alone should get the glory, and when He does, no one using any gift He has given them will ever be put to shame. I always want to be used in whatever capacity. Right now, it’s through music.”

The more stories like Ashley’s that we hear, the more we get inspired to make the most of our skills and gifts! Her interest and knowledge of music led her to give back, and she consistently keeps her focus on what’s important. Ashley gave a great reminder that volunteering is NOT ABOUT US. It’s all about serving God and others. A simple concept, but so easy to forget.

Thanks, Ashley for the fun opportunity to hang out with you and hear your story!

If you’re enjoying the #TheReasonIVolunteer series, be sure to comment below and let us know. Follow along with our campaign with #IAmVolunteerU #Volunteeru on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

 

Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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The Reason I Volunteer – Silvia from Dorcas Ministry

On our social media, we’ve recently begun a campaign called #TheReasonIVolunteer turning the spotlight on some terrific volunteers serving in their communities. (By the way, if you haven’t connected with us online be sure to click on the links below!). It’s been a fun way to hear stories of real-life heroes who donate their time and skills to make our world a better place!

Our very first post features a dear friend of mine, Silvia.

I wish I had time to go into detail about Silvia’s life exploits and her past as an entrepreneur selling commercial cleaning supplies, renting bicycles in Mexico, and being an extra in a movie, but alas, with our limited time I’m focusing only on her most recent endeavor as a volunteer for Dorcas Ministry.

Dorcas Ministry is an incredible group that repurposes pillowcases into dresses for little girls in developing countries. These beautiful dresses have been sent to children in El Salvador, Ecuador, Nepal, Poland, Mexico, and Togo.

Silvia explains, “I like to use my gifts (sewing) to help others. We have a responsibility to use our skills for more than just ourselves. I like knowing that doing something as simple as sewing is going to make a difference to a girl and her family. Plus it’s fun!”

Here is one of the precious little girls in Nepal who received one of Dorcas Ministry’s dresses! This sweet girl and her mother were so happy the photographer Alex, couldn’t help but capture the moment.

Just one example of the far-reaching impact a volunteer can have!

Keep an eye out for more of our #TheReasonIVolunteer posts in the upcoming weeks! And follow along with our campaign with #IAmVolunteerU #Volunteeru on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

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Recruiting LIKE A BOSS

One of the most frequent questions we get asked at Volunteer U is, “How do I get more volunteers?”

This is a common issue; especially for churches and nonprofits where non-paid individuals make up a majority of the positions. Sadly, although leaders know the importance of recruitment, it is usually one of the very last tasks on their busy to-do list. What leaders don’t always realize, is that a little bit of strategizing and effort now can save a lot of stress later on. Having a solid recruitment plan in place will keep a steady flow of volunteers coming through the pipeline.

Below are the three steps of recruitment and the three keys to an effective recruitment strategy.

STEP ONE. Explain the Need

This is where your salesmanship should come out. Spare no details. A flair for the dramatic is helpful here too. Even a monotonous, dirty task like cleaning the parking lot can sound exciting if you put the right spin on it! Serve your community, build friendships, and help keep our parking lot clean! Sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a few hours Saturday morning.

STEP TWO. Prove why THEY are needed

People want to know that they are needed. When you recruit, you need to make a case for why they are important. When we ask people to serve, everyone automatically believes someone better qualified will step in. We need to show volunteers that everyone is needed and can contribute. It’s also important to make people invest emotionally. Explain what you need and how their unique gifts and skills can make an impact.

STEP THREE. Call to Action

Our call to action should be simple and to the point. Ask for help with a specific project or encourage people to come to your volunteer orientation. Give them one simple step that they can take right away.

Most churches are so desperate to get help, that they try to make the volunteer process as easy as possible. I think that’s a mistake. We want to put a few steps in place that will act as filters. We’re not just looking for anyone. We’re looking for the right people. Trust me, it’s much better to be searching for someone to fill a spot, than having to clean up a mistake.

We need to build in some safeties to help make sure we get the right people in the right roles. Background checks should be standard practices for anyone working with children or youth, but asking people to become church members, or attend a mandatory training/orientation will help weed out those who aren’t committed.

3 Keys of Volunteer Recruitment

#1 Put Your Current Volunteers To Work

Recruiting doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. It should be built into the culture of your organization. Current volunteers should be your biggest advocates. There’s nothing that can compare to word-of-mouth advertising. 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues [1].

#2 Hold Volunteer Fairs

Two of the biggest reasons people tell us they don’t volunteer are 1. They don’t think they’re needed. 2. They think someone else will do it. People won’t know what you need until you let them know. Let them know all the different ways they can serve.

#3 Have a Social Media Presence

Social media has a huge reach. Your organization should have a consistent presence online to generate interest and keep people engaged. 58% of consumers share positive experiences with a company on social media and also ask their network opinions about brands [2]. This is your chance to handcraft a perception of your organization.

References

[1].  Nielsen (2013, September 17). Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/under-the-influence-consumer-trust-in-advertising.html

[2] SDL Survey Reveals Consumers Want Brands to Offer Consistent Experience (2013, May 15). Retrieved July 24 2017. http://www.sdl.com/about/news-media/press/2013/sdl-survey-reveals-consumers-want-brands-to-offer-consistent-experience.html

 

 

Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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70, Twenty, & 10. How to Train Volunteers Informally.

You may have already heard of the 70:20:10 Model. Originally created by Lombardo, and Eichinger at the Center for Creative Leadership, this 1980s leadership development theory suggests that individuals get 70% of their knowledge from challenging assignments (experience), 20% from developmental relationships, and 10% from formal training/education.

If this is true, 90% of our volunteer’s education is informal. Their knowledge of your organization, how to perform their tasks, and how to develop as leaders is mostly learned through observation and in-the-moment performances. They are learning as they go, taking both the good and bad experiences and turning those into informative memories to use in the future.

It makes you think…are we intentionally developing our volunteers during the hustle of services? If most of their knowledge is coming from job-related experiences, are we doing our best to make those experiences hand-tailored lessons that drive home the culture of our organization?

Since people are learning “on the floor” we have the incredible opportunity to train volunteers in an informal setting. One of the best ways to do this is through a mentoring program. The term mentoring program probably implies more formality than it should.

Basically, we want to pair a more experienced volunteer with a new one. The newbie will get the chance to connect with and learn from their experienced counterpart, and the more seasoned volunteer will have an opportunity to stretch as a leader and pass on specific lessons that the organization wants to press on their team.

This covers the 70% learned from experience and 20% learned from interactions with others. We can’t ignore that 10% of formal training though. Don’t underestimate the power of a volunteer orientation class. The formal class setting at the beginning of a volunteer’s journey sets the tone for the rest of their time with the organization and it’s the perfect opportunity to really drive home your organizational culture, verbiage, history, values, and “the way you do things.” Being intentional in the development of your volunteers will pay off big-time when you realize you have a volunteer staff who are firmly focused on your vision and continually growing into better leaders.

References

[1] Lombardo, M.M. & Eichinger, R.W. (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner. Minneapolis: Lominger.

 

 

Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Reducing Volunteer Turnover

Turnover is a natural part of any organization. We all know how difficult it can be to recruit and train good people. And any nonprofit leader will tell you losing valuable team members can be a terrible blow.

I can't admit to having done extensive research on this topic, but I have had my share of conversations with volunteers over the last several years and here are the top 10 reasons I have heard:

  1. Relocation
  2. Burnout
  3. New opportunities
  4. Family Issues
  5. Hurt by other volunteers / the organization
  6. Not enough time
  7. Not using their gifts
  8. Don't feel needed
  9. Lost their interest
  10. Not what they expected

There are some reasons that a volunteer leaves that we have no control over such as relocation and family issues. But most of the others on this list are things that can be prevented.

Here are a couple of practical ways you can stop unnecessary volunteer turnover.

Regular team check-ups - Are you taking the time to check-in with your team on a regular basis? This may feel like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't need to be. Set a calendar reminder to walk by x-amount of volunteers and have a quick conversation. It doesn't need to be a long or an in-depth counseling session. Just start with a simple question or two, "How are you doing? Is everything going okay? Do you like what you are doing? Are there any issues? Can I help with anything?"

Reassess current volunteer roles - Are the right people in the right positions? In smaller organizations we usually just need bodies...forget about finding the 'right person' for the role! But research shows that (especially among Millenials), people get the most value out of serving when they are using their gifts, skills, and interests.

Focus on team health - Sometimes people need to take a break. At our church, we have the rule, "attend one, serve one" where volunteers attend a service for their spiritual growth and then serve at the next one. We also encourage volunteers to take a couple weeks (or months) off when they need it. Family issues, health, even just a well-deserved break. I hate the thought of anyone on my team feeling burned-out. Volunteers who are growing spiritually and practicing good self-care are healthy volunteers! They are the ones who serve with excellence and make the organization look good.

Say "Thank You" - It's incredible how often this simple practice gets overlooked. I think as leaders we sometimes get so busy that we forget how powerful a simple expression of our gratitude can be to our team. People need to know that the work they are doing counts - no matter how small the role they play.

 

 

Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Helping Hurting People

People Are Hurting

Every week, people gather in our churches. They come to worship God, experience His presence, hear His Word preached, grow as disciples, and fellowship with like-minded believers.

Some are hurting; they come seeking a Rhema word or touch from God. They come with health issues, broken hearts, and lives, damaged relationships, emotional, financial concerns, work stresses, addictions, life pressures, past hurts, unforgiveness, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, and the list goes on and on.

We do not have to go far to find a mission field. Our congregations are packed with hurting people in desperate need of help! We can be there for them. Providing help, friendship, support, encouragement, prayer and God’s love.

#1 Be Proactive

Be on the lookout for people that are hurting. Some will be easy to spot, others it will be more difficult. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Things may seem okay on the outside, but inside they’re a mess. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you. Reach out to people. Let them know that you care about them and are there to help.

Create ‘safety nets’ for those hurting. Places where they can come for prayer, encouragement and Godly counsel – altars, prayer meetings, pastoral and professional counseling, small groups.

Equip leaders to provide specialized care. (ex. Stephen Ministries, GriefShare, Recovery Groups, Counseling.)

#2 Be Prescriptive

One of the best ways to help hurting people is to get them into a small group.

Small groups are powerful! They provide safety, Godly relationships, and support. Coupled with good Bible-based content, prayer, spirit-led facilitators, and the power of God, these small groups can have a lasting impact on the lives of everyone involved.

#3 Be Resourceful

God has provided us with powerful resources.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Prayer… Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. – James 5:16

In the Name of Jesus… Ask, using my name, and you will receive – John 16:24

The Power of Jesus… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed – John 8:36

The Blood of Jesus… And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony – Rev 12:11

The Cross… He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. – 1 Peter 2:24

The Power of God… Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me – Psalm 30:2

The Power of The Holy Spirit… The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed – Luke 4:18

The Word… The Word of God is living and powerful – Heb 4:12

God will give you everything you need to help people. Trust Him and allow him to use you.

 

 

Jim Angelakos is an associate pastor at Faith Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida. He is passionate about seeing leaders maximize their talents and lead with confidence and authority. Jim is the author of Life Truths: Ancient Wisdom for Today and a collaborator of Godly Counsel: Scriptures for Today’s World. Connect with Jim on Linkedin.com.

How Healthy Is YOUR Volunteer Team?

Do you experience high turnover? (People leaving the team regularly)

Do team members seem engaged mentally? (When team members serve are they happy, interactive, and thoughtful? Are they there physically and mentally?)

Is there Silo Mentality? (People tend to use "I" instead of "we" or "us")

Do there seem to be a lot of disagreements/issues between team members? (Issues that you as the Leader need to step in and solve?)

Do one or two team members do more than 80% of the work? (Is there a workload imbalance?)

Is there a sense of ownership? (Do team members take on projects as if they have a stake in the organization and want it to succeed?)

Is there a lot of miscommunication? (Do people complain "I didn't know" or "I never heard about that"?)

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A Leader’s Guide to Building Trust

Leaders will need to prove themselves trustworthy before workers will feel comfortable enough to allow themselves to be led. The only way to establish trust is through time. The only problem is, time is something that leaders (especially young leaders, with no proven track record) feel they can't afford.

But as anxious as we may be to develop fantastic relationships with our followers and create the perfect team right away, the truth is great leader-follower relationships usually are years in the making.

Trust is difficult to gain but incredibly easy to lose. Here are four ways to speed up the trust-building process with your followers.

1. Showing Consistency.

It’s a steady trend over time. It’s repetitive actions. You make a promise, and you follow through. You make a promise, and you follow through. You make a promise, and you follow through. Every time. The same pattern. Until it is expected. Assumed. Until there is no doubt that your word is always supported by your actions.

2. Meeting Expectations.

In every relationship, there is some level of expectation. Whether realistic or not, these expectations are there. When we’re working to build trust with followers, we have to be ready to meet the anticipation of our followers. In the leader-follower relationship, each expects the other to perform their role (whether those expectations are vocalized or not) without being monitored. Where most people run into trouble, is when those expectations are assumed by one party and not the other. Open communication is vital to making sure all expectations are met.

3. Removing Uncertainty.

The enemy of trust is ambiguity. When people are unsure, it seeds fear which in turn leads to doubt. The best way to keep building a relationship of trust early on with followers is to remove their uncertainties. This means paying attention. Leaders should always be listening (and paying attention!) to conversations with followers to catch wind of any doubts. It's not enough to identify concerns; you need to address them.

4. Living Authentically.

The world is changing. Gone are the days of leaders pretending to be perfect or having all the answers. Followers prefer real to super. In fact, research shows that people are more attracted to competent leaders after they make a little blunder. In psychology, this is called the Pratfall Effect, and it just goes to show that people look for ways to connect. They’re looking for leaders who are relatable. Real. A hero they can look up to because although the leader has shown herself to be fallible, she has learned to overcome. Authentic leaders build trust.

Time is a necessary ingredient in any relationship, but with these four tricks, you'll be on the fast-track to connecting with your followers.

As a leader, are you being intentional in building trust with your followers BEFORE you expect them to follow you?

 

Christina Angelakos has a doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. She loves working with teams in both the corporate and nonprofit marketplace. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaAngel

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Embracing Conflict

If you’re like me, you tend to shy away from conflict. In fact, I used to try to ignore it altogether. Distracting people who were mad became an art form for this peacemaking middle child.

I finally learned the positive power of conflict when I did something that was completely unnatural for me…I embraced it.

Here I was facilitating a group discussion that suddenly took an aggressive turn. One of the participants had been interrupted several times by another group member, and she finally snapped. The two sat facing off and then BOOM. An explosion of what I can only assume were pent up emotions from several weeks of working together.

The tension-filled moment made me feel a mixture of dread and worried energy, as my mind quickly ran through different ways to diffuse the situation.

As I nervously looked around the room, I saw similar expressions of discomfort. The friendly eye-contact that had been the norm so far in our little meeting place abruptly ceased as everyone in the room suddenly found their fingernails, notebook, or watch of vast interest.

The tension was so thick in the office it was palatable.

I took a deep breath and went against every natural instinct in my body. Instead of ignoring the pressure, I leaned into it. “This is interesting, you guys. Let’s keep going with this.”

The next twenty minutes were extremely uncomfortable…and remarkably productive.

Here’s why conflict can be healthy for your team:

It highlights underlying dangers. Conflict is typically a symptom, and if you ignore it, you will never find the disease at its root. Small spats of discord are usually red flags that there is something else going on. You may need to dig a little, but if you ask the right questions, you might find that a team member is going through a difficult situation at home, or perhaps that someone is in the wrong position.

Tension is necessary for growth. You don’t get taller without some growing pains; you can’t start a fire without a little friction. It’s all part of the growing process. What should really worry us is when there are no issues, no disagreements, no opposing forces. That’s a sign of stagnation and may mean that we are missing out on innovation, creativity, and chances to branch out.

It’s an opportunity for team members to bond. Nothing makes or breaks relationships like a little disagreement. Typically, working through disputes brings people closer together and ends up strengthening the team bond as they learn to work through differences.

When I talk about embracing conflict, I don’t mean to create drama, pit team members against each other, or incite unnecessary emotional outbursts. Instead, I’m suggesting that when conflict shows up in our organization, we should take it for what it truly is, an opportunity to grow and create a healthy, vibrant team.

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The 5 I’s: How to Guard Against and Overcome the Silo Mentality.

Silo Mentality is a mindset present when certain departments, sectors or programs, intentionally or unintentionally, do not share information freely. This type of mentality reduces operational efficiency, morale, and eventually contributes to the demise of productivity in the organization’s culture.

Here are 5 ways to guard against and overcome silo mentality.


1. Identity
Communicate the organization’s vision and mission to everyone. From the top down everyone in the organization should be able to clearly state the vision and mission statements.

2. Integrity
Schedule regular meetings focused on accountability and interdepartmental communication. Make sure that all stakeholders attend.
3. Intentional  
Deliberately build bridges between departments. Ensure that people, tasks, and communication flow freely.

4. Influence  
Plan special projects or activities aligned with the organization’s vision and mission. Invite all departments to take part. This will help create synergy and a culture of unity.
5. Impart
Share successes. This will encourage, motivate and inspire everyone.

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