Great topic of discussion here. First, I’ll share that you are not alone. This is the most common place of exasperation among maternity housing ministries that I hear of on a regular basis! Several factors may play into this, chief among them being our high rate of unemployment nationally at this time. Most communities are facing labor shortages with ministries not being any different.
So, what to do to keep the ship afloat during the storm? While we have a shortage in labor, we ironically do not have a shortage of unpaid labor in most communities! My recommendation is to make the most of this season to build a first-class volunteer program in your ministry. A thriving volunteer program can bolster every aspect of your ministry from recruitment, evangelism, programmatic operations, and especially development/fundraising.
To do this, look for creative ways to place a volunteer in the role of a typically paid staff member. Remember to be flexible! The duties of the volunteer will likely need to be modified compared to what a paid staff member may typically be responsible for. You will likely need to create first-ever volunteer roles and allow volunteers more opportunities for responsibility…and yes, also mistakes. In times like these, I like to remind myself that bending is better than breaking and that changes aren’t required to be permanent. If it doesn’t work you can always return to the former way of doing things!
Curious how volunteers could possibly bolster your fundraising efforts? Many churches are asked to fund hundreds of different missionary opportunities leaving them with a need for an elimination process to select which missions are funded. In general terms, churches often like to invest in missions in which their congregants are directly involved. This leaves you with an opportunity to make the most of your volunteer activities by asking volunteers to connect you with other congregants and groups within their church. With a history of volunteerism from congregants in the church, your ministry will then be postured for success when it is your turn to request funding for your mission field.
Quick tip: Sending a quarterly letter with an update about your ministry activities and a report on volunteer activity from within their church is often warmly received by supporting churches.
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