Global Leadership Network UK & Ireland

GLN UK & Ireland

The Seven Myths of Volunteerism Part 3 – Bill Hybels

Joining Hands image

Myth 3: Volunteers Are Free Help.

I remember when we decided to do food service on our campus. It was a big decision. We knew that when we were going to provide food service that we were going to have to pay a small staff for a few key people. But we envisioned hundreds of volunteers helping out in that ministry. When a couple of our board members were putting the business plan together for our food service ministry, one of our staff leaders plugged in a number. And that was questioned at the board meeting. The answer came back that the money was for a full-time salary and benefit package to hire a great person to recruit volunteers to work in our food service ministry and to nurture and train and care for those volunteers who are going to step forward and serve. And the board member said, “Wait, I thought volunteers were always free help.” The other guy said, “Volunteers offer enormous amounts of help around here, but they are never free.”

Volunteers need and deserve to be given competent leadership, sensitive shepherding, ongoing development, training, and tools to do their job. They’re supposed to be nurtured and coached by the staff into their full redemptive potential. That’s going to require some staff. At Willow, we give some of our high capacity volunteers their own office, their own phone, and computer. They come to staff meetings. They don’t get a paycheck for it, but we certainly give them the tools and the equipment that they need to do what God has called them to do. They do an enormous amount of work for us. But they really aren’t free.

Bill Hybels

Adapted from Willow Magazine 2004