Volunteer Strategy – Part 2, Step 1
Last week I posted Part 1 of the volunteer strategy I have begun to implement at 4th Avenue. Part 2 was mostly in place already but now with every volunteer position mapped out and role description created, the fun begins. Getting people invited into a position which will grow their strengths in ways that will both allow them to move into their next level of leadership as well as help children to follow Jesus. Part 2 has two steps. (Remember, I am trying to think small!) Step 1 – Apply, Step 2 – Get connected.
I researched a number of different volunteer applications before arriving at a revised version of Jim Wideman’s. I decided that if we were going to go through the trouble of asking volunteers to take the time to do this, it ought to be thorough. The application includes, personal contact information, desired ministry involvement, personal history (more on this below), church history, reference forms, background check, and a section for them to describe their spiritual journey. We have met some resistance from individuals as to why this is all necessary. I decided to write Volunteer Approval Letter that would be handed out to anyone who applied. I plan to revise a copy of it to serve as an explanation for those who have doubts in hopes that it will alleviate their concern.
The “personal history” section invites the applicant to go into detail about a lot of personal details including history of psychotic disorder, drug/alcohol abuse, criminal history, etc. In the form we provide a place for the applicant to indicate if they would prefer to discuss the sensitive responses in person as well as to describe the measures they have taken to limit the negative impact of their past in their daily life (counseling, etc.). We feel knowing these things is important because a history that has not been addressed adequately could put a child at risk.
Since the form is somewhat lengthy, we use a web service called Formsite. When volunteers enter application web address, they are encouraged to create a username/password so if they leave the form they can return with their data saved. As they complete the sections mentioned above, their information is stored on the website’s secure server. Once they click “submit” I am emailed a copy of the completed form. I create a file for each volunteer and store their information. Since they have completed within the form a section on references, each reference they have listed (name, relationship, and email address) is automatically sent a link via email to another form I have created specifically for references. The reference completes the short form, clicks submit and the form is automatically emailed to me. The background check information is sent to our administrative assistant to enters it into our background check service and she gives me a copy of the results.
I feel it is a very smooth process and have not experienced any kinks in it as of yet. Step 2 of the process will need to include some sort of spiritual giftedness or strengths finder tool for all our volunteers. I am thinking this may be something that will need to be implemented later but I may do some beta testing on my leadership group.