Working with volunteers for digital and social media work

Hello and welcome. I’m Natchi Lazarus. Today I want to talk to you about working with volunteers in digital and social media for your church ministry. Working with volunteers is a wonderful thing. It builds community. It creates an environment of ‘Give and Take’ as you work with people. It reduces your cost, obviously. But more than that, it’s also a wonderful way in which churches and ministries are designed to function, because it’s not just about the cost, it’s about the relationships and the way you get other people to participate in the ministry.

You do this together as a team, as a community. So it’s a wonderful thing. But at the same time, when it comes to digital and social media, you have to be very prepared before you start working with volunteers. Because this is media. You are basically taking your media division and you are involving volunteers in it. Which means you need to be extra prepared. So I’m going to give you 5 practical tips that could help you make this a very enjoyable relationship, create a Win-Win situation, make everybody happy and satisfied, so that there’s no feeling of, “Oh, I messed up” kind of a thing.

#1 – Create and Define Boundaries

No.1 – Create Boundaries. Create boundaries that would help volunteers know what to do, what not to do, what they should be going about doing. Spend some time to prepare and create a document, an Excel sheet or a Google doc or something that just defines boundaries so that volunteers are very clear of what they should do and should not do.

#2 – Layout and Set Expectations

No.2 – Set Expectations. Set clear expectations with every single piece. Every that you’re giving out to the volunteers should have a deliverables, should have the expectations clearly stated out so that there are no two ways about it. These are all common principles that we follow for other volunteers and other positions. But when it comes to digital and social media, we just give it and say, “Oh, do something” because we don’t understand it sometimes. Sometimes we think, “It’s ok, it is just online. You can always delete it.” Yes, you can, but it’s always better to be extra prepared. I find that in certain organizations, that’s why I get a lot of questions on this. So I wanted to put this video together. Set those expectations. That’s number two.

#3 – Set a Trial Period and Assess Progress.

No.3 – Create a trial period. A period in which you will work with these volunteers. This is a practical tip. When you start working with volunteers, don’t have an undefined or unlimited or even a long period of time. Try to keep the period of time a little bit shorter. Like, for example, a couple of weeks, a month. And then you tell them, “Hey, we’ll work on this. We’ll see how it goes.” Because sometimes there is a volunteer that comes and says, “I can do this, this and this”. But you find that there are some things that they are not able to do the way that you would like them to. So always set the trial period first.

That way they don’t feel that they have not delivered or you don’t feel that you have to stop them from doing their job after they’ve gone too far into the process. So set a trial period, define the job for that trial period very clearly so that you can assess what is possible and what’s not. That’s number three, a practical tip for you.

#4 – Give Freedom to Experiment

No.4 – Freedom. Give your (volunteer) team freedom. What do I mean by this? Do not try to micromanage. After you set the boundaries, after you set the expectation, after you tell them what to do, once you give it to them, allow them to play around freely within those boundaries. Especially in social media, in the digital space, because this involves a lot of experimentation – you need to create different types of content, you need to try what works, you need to see which content people like, which they don’t, what is doable, what’s not doable, etc.

There are just a lot of permutations combinations. If you start micromanaging everything from a volunteer perspective, it might create tension within the team. So once you set all this up, just let go, give them freedom to try a few things. Even if it goes wrong, be gracious and move on with it. That’s my practical tip. Just give a lot of freedom to your volunteer team.

#5 – Create a Culture of Appreciation

No.5 – Appreciation. This is a leadership quality, a common need across ministries, especially in digital and social media ministry. Please appreciate your volunteers more as you see what’s happening. Even if something’s not working, send out your appreciation, and share the results (analytics/numbers) with them. That is also another practical, important thing which is part of appreciation – sharing the numbers with your volunteer team.

Suppose somebody helps you put together a video, many times what I see in churches and ministries is, you take the video, you put it on social media, it does so well, but you’re so busy you can’t even share the metrics with them. They are the ones who worked on that video, but they don’t have visibility to what’s going on. They only see the numbers on the feed straight away, they don’t see the analytics. So share those numbers with them. This will encourage them. That will help them to come up with more creative ideas in the next engagement that you have them. So appreciate them, create a system of appreciation, a culture of appreciation and work with those volunteers.

So there you have it. Those are the 5 practical tips I have for you to make your volunteer experience smooth, when it comes to digital and social media. I hope that was helpful. I’ll see you next week with another thought. Until then, you stay connected, stay blessed and stay safe. If you have any questions or thoughts related to this, do send it to me. I’m very happy to answer them. You could DM me or leave your comments. Bye.

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