If you want your volunteers to actually show up, last longer, and be as invested as you are, written job descriptions are a must! Learn the 3 Keys to a Motivating Volunteer Job Description. And why the main objections to writing them are just untrue!

  • Well-written job descriptions help volunteers make commitments they’ll stick with
  • They create longevity because volunteers are more successful (and they know it)
  • And they open the door to better conversation, keeping everyone on the same page

No one wants to do a job and fail.

No one wants to start a job and quit.

Well-written volunteer job descriptions can help!

HOW WILL A WRITTEN JOB DESCRIPTION CHANGE ANYTHING?

IF YOU ARE THE LEADER … Volunteer Job Descriptions will:

  • Save you time and lessen stress
  • Help avoid miscommunication & broken relationships
  • Keep your volunteers happier & serving longer

IF YOU ARE THE VOLUNTEER …. A Written Job Description will:

  • Help you make great decisions on when to say “YES” or “NO”
  • Take the confusion out of serving and make your jobs more fun
  • Let you know when you are doing a great job

In fact, just the exercise of writing job descriptions has incredible value. 

Working through the process of developing volunteer job descriptions helps leaders clarify what they actually want & need.

This, in turn, crystallizes the vision and leads to better communication.

A Well-Written Job Description is a venue for casting vision, developing a team, and fostering long-term relationships.

For other tips on developing your team, click here!

3 KEYS FOR A WELL-WRITTEN VOLUNTEER JOB DESCRIPTION

1) GREAT JOB DESCRIPTIONS ARE MOTIVATING

  • Would you rather make someone’s day or buy cookies?
  • Would you rather be a chaperone or give hope to a discouraged teenager?
  • Would you rather welcome people with a smile or stand at a door handing out bulletins?

While there are days many of us would rather drop something and run, if you want to develop volunteers and do awesome ministry, you need to paint the vision boldly!

And with purpose.

2) GREAT JOB DESCRIPTIONS ARE SIMPLE & SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

Uncomplicated & easy to read is what you are going for!

SHORT BULLET POINTS ARE IDEAL.

  • A quick glance is enough to get the picture
  • People know what they are committing to
  • They provides great reminders when serving
  • And they become the perfect tool for evaluation & celebration!

3) GREAT JOB DESCRIPTIONS DEFINE RESULTS TO ACHIEVE, NOT JUST TASKS TO COMPLETE

Job descriptions should be based more on results you want to see than tasks you want done.

The reason for this?

  • Your volunteers develop more ownership
  • It allows for creativity and growth
  • And they just might have better ideas than you!

HOW TO WRITE A VOLUNTEER JOB POSITIONS

  • Start with the WHY
  • Define the RESULTS you want
  • Write BULLET POINTS of clear expectations
  • Include a START & END TIME commitment, whether it’s one night (7p-9p) or a term (Sept-Dec)
  • Answer WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHERE but leave a little room for the HOW

Q: Do you really need a written job description for a volunteer?

A: Only if you want someone to do a job.

3 OBJECTIONS TO WRITING JOB DESCRIPTIONS (AND WHY THEY ARE UNTRUE)

I’m sure I haven’t seen it all. But I’ve sure seen a lot!

And I’ve seen a lot more excuses to NOT write job descriptions than I’ve seen them done well.

So, in case these thoughts are flying through your mind, let’s address them.

OBJECTION #1: Everyone already knows how to ______________. 

(FILL IN THE BLANK: bring in cookies for the event, chaperone a pool party, drive in a traveling caravan, set up tables & chairs)

After working with volunteers for over 30 years, from churches to PTOs and community groups, it is totally NOT true that everyone knows how to__________________. (FILL IN THE BLANK.)

If you have an expectation (AND YOU DO!), you need to be crystal clear. If it’s in writing, if everyone involved reads it, then (AND ONLY THEN!) can you be sure you are on the same page.

OBJECTION #2: It takes more time to write a job description than it does to do the job myself.

Hmmm…. maybe. But highly unlikely.

For short-term positions, the job description should be a motivating vision sentence, plus a few bullet points. 

Job descriptions are reusable, recyclable, and easily adaptable to other positions.

In addition, a big part ministry is sharing the mission and the joy of service. If a few extra minutes of your time makes it easier for someone to be involved, then so be it.

That’s why it’s called “LEADING”….otherwise, you are just “DOING.”

OBJECTION #3: Volunteers feel offended that you are treating them like employees.

NOPE! THEY LOVE IT!

I love it. You love it, too.

We all love knowing when we are doing a good job. No one likes to fail.

You can’t do a good job unless you know what the job is.

How do I know when I’ve done a good job? … when I have a written job description.

EXAMPLES: BEFORE & AFTERS OF USING EFFECTIVE MINISTRY JOB DESCRIPTIONS

#1 We Need Cookies for the Fellowship Hour

“BEFORE” a well-written job description:

We need cookies during the fellowship time after church. Sign up in the kitchen.

4 WEEKS OF THE “BEFORE” RESULTS:

WEEK 1: Four beautiful plates of homemade cookies. Chocolate chip. Butterscotch bars. Sprigs of grapes (as a fresh fruit option), and sugar cookies.

WEEK 2: By the time Mike gets out there, there’s no cookies left. But there is evidence of crumbs. There were treats there at some point.

WEEK 3: During the fellowship hour, while people are milling around, Marjorie is racing around putting cookies on serving plates. Stress is rising.

WEEK 4: No cookies in the welcome center. But later we found them on the kitchen counter.

WERE YOUR VOLUNTEERS SUCCESSFUL? Yeppers! You asked for cookies during the fellowship time after church. You got them! Each person fulfilled your wishes! (Is that what you really wanted though?)

AFTER” a well-written job description:

“We want our church family and our guests to hang out and gather for conversation and refreshments. To create this hospitable, welcoming environment, we need easy-to-grab treats available for everyone! 

We are looking for people to:

  • Sign up for Sundays that work for your schedule.
  • Bring at least 100 bites of treats to church by 9 a.m. (bites could be a individual cookies, sprigs of fruit, a 9×13 pan of treats cut into 30 bars … be creative!) 
  • Why 100? We figure two servings per person because some take none and the kids take a few extras! 
  • Put treats on our 4 serving plates on the cookie table in the welcome center before the fellowship hour starts.
  • After the fellowship hour clean up the 4 plates and put the leftovers in baggies and into the freezer (unless you want to take them home).

RESULT: Cookies are on time and enough & your hostesses have a smile as people enjoy.

#2 We Need Volunteers for a Youth Ministry Lock-In

BEFORE” a well-written job description:

We are desperate for chaperones! Can you come and hang out with the kids for the night?

“BEFORE” RESULTS – 4 PEOPLE SIGN UP

PERSON #1 … comes, but doesn’t interact with kids at all … is on her phone most of the night.

PERSON #2 … shows up late … plays with kids a bit … is too tired to stay past 3 am and leaves to go to bed.

PERSON #3 … stays behind the scenes, cleans up after everyone, runs the vacuum during the lip-sync battles, makes the kids clean before they crash from exhaustion.

PERSON #4 … comes early, hangs back, talks to the kids who are less engaged, helps when asked, cleans up at 7 am when everyone is leaving. 

DID THEY ALL DO THEIR JOB?? Yeppers! All 4 did exactly what you asked! (is that what you really wanted though?)

AFTER” a well-written job description:

“We need some relational giants to pour into the kids for the lock-in! I’m looking for 2 men and 2 women who are willing to sacrifice a night of sleep to have fun and build bridges of relationships with our teens and their friends.

  • Pick at least 1 shift (or stay all night): 7-midnight, 11 pm – 4 am, 4 am – 8 am.
  • Engage with kids in the lock-in fun and activities (don’t watch them! Play WITH them!)
  • Help maintain a safe, affirming environment of kindness, positivity, and fun.
  • Watch for any kids who are hanging on the fringes and not joining the group. Gently reach out and initiate a relationship, and see if you can help them engage.
  • Support & Follow all youth ministry policies (printed in policy book)”

RESULT: Intentional relational ministry & more effective connection of kids with kids and kids with adults.

IF YOU WANT BEAUTIFUL RESULTS, KEEP YOUR JOB DESCRIPTIONS ALIVE

If you write job descriptions and throw them in a file folder, they are no good to anyone.

Make your job descriptions an active part of your ministry. 

  • Have job descriptions available at team meetings and events
  • Use them in recruiting new team members
  • Remind your volunteers of the vision of their roles in their job descriptions
  • Use them in evaluating and celebrating – Job well done!

FINAL QUESTIONS FOR CHANGE

If you are a leader of volunteers… 

  1. Do all your volunteers have written job descriptions?
  2. Are they up-to-date, accessible, and referenced often?
  3. Are they used in evaluation and celebration?

If you are a volunteer WITHOUT a job description… 

Do you need to clarify your role?

  1. Take the initiative (your leader will love you!) to jot down your thoughts of what you think your responsibilities are
  2. Set a time to meet with your leader and discuss
  3. Help start a “new normal” for great communication & open the door for shared expectations

Getting on the same page makes volunteering more fun and more effective!

READ MORE ON DEVELOPING YOUR TEAM FOR GREAT MINISTRY RESULTS:

TEAM BUILDING IN A SMALL CHURCH: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR FINDING AND KEEPING VOLUNTEERS YOU CAN COUNT ON

5 WAYS TO USE THE ENNEAGRAM PERSONALITY TEST IN YOUR CHURCH