SSVP New Member Engagement Strategy

posted: August 2019
submitted by: Linda Alexander, ONRC Rejuvenation Committee

"Do you want to know how to keep new members engaged, check out these steps to ensure active engagement."

Members want a sense that they are contributing in a meaningful way so it is so important that we get them involved and active as soon after they go through the screening and orientation process as possible or they may become disillusioned and then start looking for other opportunities.

Reasons people stay involved: They engage because they have responded to a call to serve. Being a Vincentian is a vocation, a call into Ministry. A presenter at a National US SSVP conference shared, "How many times is the word servant used in the New Testament? The answer is exactly 100". Then he said, "how many times is the word volunteer used. Exactly zero"

We are not seeking volunteers, we are seeking persons who want to experience the Vincentian way of life. Volunteers want something to do on their time table and their conditions. Vincentian way of life is the complete opposite. They wish to give themselves generously away in service to Him and to His most vulnerable.

They feel a connection to the families, the needs of the families have been placed on their hearts. They feel they belong, they have tasks to perform, they are busy, the work is impactful, they feel supported, valued and encouraged.

And once the members grow to love the Ministry and the families they will start recruiting in their friends and contacts. A face to face testimonial from a passionate Vincentian is much more powerful than a call from the pulpit. Both are needed. The call from the pulpit is the fishing net, but a face to face dialogue with a Vincentian is the fishing pole.

Reasons people don't stay involved: Boredom, dissatisfaction, frustration, fatigue, a negative culture, feeling disconnected.

The leadership team has to create a participatory culture where the ideas, skills, talent and experiences of the members can be welcomed and utilized in service to the families.

It is important to capture that "I want to help" energy and turn potential volunteers into members you can count on, by training and engaging through mentorship.

Active groups are attractive groups. Are we striving to help in all possible ways in our conferences.

Steps to ensure active engagement in the ministry:
  1. Create Clear expectations of their tasks and responsibilities.
    1. Create a role description.
    2. Assign tasks or small projects. Consider time capacity and skill level as well as interest.
    3. Place them on the home visit schedule as soon as possible. The ‘home visit is where a volunteer becomes a Vincentian'.
  2. Find a mentor for each new member:
    1. Consider setting up a structured mentoring approach so each new member gets paired with a seasoned member so they have someone they can connect with, who they can ask questions of, so they feel that they really belong to the team.
    2. After a meeting or a home visit reach out and ask how did you enjoy the meeting or what questions do you have? It's a steep learning curve so we want and need to support them.
  3. Provide training.
    1. Encourage questions and encourage research and self-learning of resources and opportunities in the local area. ‘We don't know what we don't know' Knowledge is power and is needed in our roles of Informed Navigators, connecting and referring families into programs, opportunities and services and walking alongside them to a healthier and more sustainable condition.
  4. Get to know the members:
    1. Help people identify their gifts. What was their reason for joining? What is their background and skill set?
    2. Make sure they know they are valued. Affirm new members and encourage them. Stay connected.
    3. Invite them and include them so that they can learn. It's a steep learning curve.
  5. Maintain the spirituality connection in all aspects of the ministry. It is a faith journey. This is how we can love Jesus by seeing Him in the eyes of those in need and serving Him by serving His most vulnerable.
Linda Alexander
ONRC Rejuvenation Committee

Best Practices