Do you wonder how you can get your volunteers motivated to do more? Celebrate your team’s wins. It’s simple, often free, and takes minimal effort.

Why It Works

We know that when we reward our kids with something special for their behavior, they are more willing to repeat that behavior. This works not just because they crave that treat or want a new toy, but because our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical reward for positive experiences like a compliment or a gift. The same thing happens in adults. Our brain remembers what we did to get that release of dopamine, and it’s eager to do it again.

A thank you note, a quick text, a sincere hug or a small gift can encourage your volunteers to serve and to go above and beyond what is expected. Each week, choose at least one person to thank for going beyond the call of duty. Keep track of who you thank to ensure you do not repeatedly thank only the same few people. This will also help you to pay more attention to what others are doing and investigate what you can do to motivate them as well.

Don’t Celebrate Firefighting

Where I serve in kids ministry, a example of a fire would be a volunteer canceling at the last minute. Life happens and kids wake up in the morning with the stomach flu. Sure, we would thank the replacement, but we should make a bigger deal out of the ones who are proactive, love being there, suggest new ideas, and do things without being asked. We don’t want people to cancel at the last minute, but if we celebrate the firefighters, more fires are likely to follow.

Love Your Volunteers

Once a month in our kids ministry, we celebrate a Volunteer of the Month and give them a $25 gift card to a restaurant they enjoy. We look for volunteers who take on more responsibilities, disciple others, do extra without being asked, or eagerly step in to help someone else out. People want to know that what they are doing matters. If it matters to you, tell them! We all have to work together to be the body of Christ. We need to love one another to reach more people and bring them to Christ (John 13:34-35). Show your volunteers that you love them, and in return they will grow to love serving the church.

Tia Harwood

Tia Harwood

Tia Harwood is the children's ministry director for Valley Life | Tramonto.