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Using the Past to Propel the Future

CTA - Christ to All /Jul. 10, 2018
Using the Past to Propel the Future

By Karen Kogler

Several years ago, I had the uncomfortable experience of being asked for a copy of my most recent
annual report on church volunteerism when I had never even thought of writing one.

It happened while leading our church through the Service Enterprise certification process, designed to help non-profits strengthen volunteer engagement. I knew that volunteer administrators in community
organizations regularly produced such reports, but I had never considered creating one. In the church,
we don’t do that kind of thing, do we?

But since I was asked for one, I gave it a try. Now, with a few under my belt, I’m an enthusiastic convert.

An annual report works well in any specific ministry, such as children’s ministry or music ministry, or as a
review of a church’s entire ministry. But a review of a church’s overall volunteerism picture can be
particularly useful.

What did we do last year? What was most important? Who was involved? Where did we make an impact? What can we celebrate? As you review and evaluate, you’re already learning what can be improved for the future. As you ask others for their input for the annual report, you’ll learn things you wouldn’t otherwise have known. In addition to facts and figures, gather stories and comments. They not only make it personal, they are another way of demonstrating impact.

Now, you’re bound to have lots of facts, figures, anecdotes, and information. But since a multipage, wordy report is unlikely to be read and remembered, you must prune. Pruning is hard, but it forces you to pull out what’s really important from what is business as usual.

Preparing a first report is timeintensive, but they get easier. The regular discipline of preparing an annual report trains you to notice impact throughout the year.

When the report is done, the benefits continue:

  • Congregational buy-in. People are more supportive when they know what’s going on.
  • Partnerships. A succinct view of your ministry, shared with other ministry leaders within and beyond your church, strengthens teamwork and reduces potential conflict.
  • Recruitment. When talking to potential volunteers, include your annual report with a job description. Vision and impact are key motivators for all volunteers. In addition, if you’re the one who prepared the report, they’ll see you as a focused and capable leader.

Ministry is kingdom work - God’s people using their God-given gifts in a wide variety of tasks that all aim to make disciples of Jesus. A yearly look back can propel that mission forward.

Additional helpful links:
A link to my annual report can be found here.

Two Susan Ellis blogs influenced my vision:
End-of-Year Reports Can Illuminate Volunteer Achievements Inform, and WOW, Everyone about Volunteers

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