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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How can faith-based organizations engage volunteers successfully?

faith volunteers

While 32% of volunteers in America work for religious organizations, faith-based organizations keep experiencing a high turnover of volunteers. Volunteers are crucial for the development and longevity of nonprofit organizations. Thus, organizations need to be strategic with their volunteering programs. Amidst the challenge of recruiting volunteers, faith-based organizations search for volunteers with unique characteristics, such as values, devotion, faith, and good reputation in the community. Although most volunteers at faith-based organizations are driven by their faith and beliefs, religion is not always enough to achieve long-term voluntary commitment, especially in the human services subsector. Effective management and engagement of volunteers will help faith-based organizations increase social impact on behalf of their communities. 

By complementing recognized recruitment and retention strategies with the conceptualization of faith in their volunteering programs, faith-based organizations can improve the engagement of volunteers. 

Define the faith elements that will be implemented in the faith-based services

Volunteers interested in working with faith-based organizations seek those that align with their doctrinal perspectives. The religious culture of the community will affect the choice of connection strategies.  By effectively communicating which moral and spiritual values configure the basis for its work, the organization will positively influence the interest of potential volunteers. 

Be clear on the organization's conceptual-ideological and programmatic pillars 

Faith-based organizations offering transparent stances on spiritual, social, and political issues are more likely to be attractive to the type of volunteer who will match the organization's mission and vision. Regardless of what different religions accept or what other communities do not, faith-based organizations must be clear about codes of conduct that align with their mission. It is also crucial that faith-based organizations select and/or develop human services programs that better align with its conceptual-ideological principles. Volunteers who genuinely share the same doctrinal values as the organization will have a greater sense of commitment to their work.

Implement the calling experience to the volunteer recruitment and retention program

Unique elements found in faith-based organizations’ volunteering, such as the calling experience or work calling that can only be experienced through faith as a belief, can be used in volunteers' faith-based recruitment and retention processes. The calling should not be merely a doctrinal command but more a spiritual process of obedience while on Earth receiving a transcendental reward. Implement statements of faith pertinent to their services in the organization’s marketing for volunteer recruitment. Include questions in the application and interview to inquire about the work calling of the applicant as a motivation to volunteer. 

Create internal activities that reflect moral vocation

Inner community activities promoting the volunteers’ belief system that fulfills their sense of being accountable to God will strengthen their spiritual purpose and sense of belonging. Morning periods of praying to share personal and family needs and the planned daily activities, an annual special reunion to bring their spiritual child or mentor, or an annual spiritual retreat with the primary purpose of presenting the organization’s projects for the year are some activities that might help to develop spiritual and emotional bonds with organizational leaders and other staff.

Lizannette Morales-Crespo is a 2024 graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University. She has a private practice as an attorney at law in San Juan, Puerto Rico, providing professional services to many faith-based nonprofit organizations since 2016. As a former secondary science teacher and daughter of protestants Ministers, Lizannette appreciates the value of education. In 2016, she founded Meraki Group, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides legal and social support to faith communities through workshops, conferences, and a TV/Radio show called “Godly Parenting.”  She also contributes to Global Commission Partners and The Alliance for the Development of the Puerto Rican Third Sector.  

Image by Lillian Finley

Solving challenges for faith organizations with Best Skills Best Churches

Faith communities face many of the same challenges as secular nonprofits, from fundraising and marketing to volunteer and financial management. To create Best Skills Best Churches, we adapted our renowned nonprofit training for denominations and faith traditions across the country, empowering their leaders with the skills and tools they need to effectively guide their communities.

Lizannette Morales-Crespo


ASU Lodestar Center Blog