We live in a world with incredibly complex social issues—poverty, homelessness, fatherlessness, and injustice (to name just a few). The American culture challenges us to imagine what is possible, right what is wrong, and take action. And, as Christians, we know that Jesus came to “proclaim good news to the poor…freedom for the prisoner…recovery of sight for the blind…[to] set the oppressed free…[and] proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
This alone should propel us to action. And, it does propel people to action. We want to make a difference. Volunteers are a necessary and critical resource for healthy communities and ministry efforts.
One in four adults in the U.S. volunteers regularly (about 3 hours per month). In 2010, volunteers contributed nearly $173 billion in value to the nonprofit sector! This impact is staggering. And, young people are serving at a greater rate than ever before. 30% of Gen Xers volunteer and Millennials serve at a rate of 21%.
As you digest this fact, it’s hard to ignore the impact technology can have in this arena. 46% of American adults own a smart phone (that number jumps to near 70% for those under the age of 35). We live with our phones, tablets, and laptops nearby. When we connect with friends and causes, it’s not uncommon to use the internet.
However, so often the nonprofit community is not harnessing this power. We need to get better at leveraging these often free resources to engage people in ministry. People want to make a difference. They want to connect with felt needs in their neighborhood, and they’ll pick up their smart phone and land on a webpage to explore opportunities, generate ideas, and finalize commitments.
Ministries can use technology to
- Recruit – share volunteer needs on your own website, share this information with others through social media, eletters and platforms like Meet The Need that seamlessly integrate with other websites
- Register – Take registrations through your website and the sites of other local organizations
- Remind – Send online reminders, cancellations and adjustments
- Revise – Change and communicate volunteer needs and details
- Record – Track outstanding needs, audit and calculate volunteer hours
As we work to be more effective in how we steward and thank volunteers they will continue to serve and grow in ministry. Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment where volunteers use their time, talent and treasure to share the love of Christ with others. Believe it or not, technology can be a powerful tool to recruit, equip, and retain life-long volunteers.