One big mistake we often make as leaders is putting all the focus on our staff and forgetting that we have an army of extremely “bought in” trip leaders. Shift gears and instead, think of your leaders as more than great people who lead your trips but people who can carry your vision forward.
To participants and field partners, here are some suggestions on how to engage your trip leaders to a higher calling:
#1 Equip them. Remember, they might be your greatest tool for mobilizing your audience to mission. Help them become better recruiters, mobilizers, and senders.
#2 Encourage and gift books. There are so many great mission books (When Helping Hurts, The Great Omission, Shadow of the Almighty, and so on.). Consider having an annual book you purchase and send out to all of your trip leaders to continue building their own personal mission philosophy and worldview.
#3 Appreciation meals. Host appreciation meals for your trip leaders to pour into them, keep them connected, share what’s new and upcoming, and to allow them to build a tighter community with each other. Spread these out throughout the year to avoid the “see you next summer” mindset that some trip participants and leaders may accidentally fall into.
#4 Provide trainings. Host at least one annual trip leader training. Whether it's by video or something else, the most successful we’ve seen is for organization to have a time where you stop thinking about everything else and focus on your larger purpose for mission trips.
#5 Brainstorm sessions. Host brainstorms sessions throughout the year (especially out of peak trip season to keep leaders engaged) and collect feedback on ways to do things better: preparation, process, communications, resources, debriefs, and more.
#6 Give note & gifts. Sure, giving gifts for a volunteer role may not be the norm, but think creatively about this. Sending a note card and a $5 gift card to Starbucks to say thanks for all they are doing goes a long way.
#7 Recognize the work. While trip leaders may be working with you on the direct details of a specific trip, they are often mentoring and connecting with their participants long after the trip. Be sure to recognize and thank them for continually pouring into the people.
#8 Invite to team meetings. Invite trip leaders to key team or staff meetings when you are working through short-term logistics, strategic changes that impact them, and/or celebrating key things.
You have a unique opportunity to equip and send so many people. We often fixate on the trip participants and forget what amazing resources we have in our trip leaders. More so, these trip leaders really can essentially be your pro bono staff members giving you an army of equipped mobilizers.
Action: Select at least one item from above that you can implement this week. Maybe it's having a zoom call over coffee with a few team leaders and asking them what they need most to be equipped well.
This is just one strategy of five (5) we have for doubling your impact. Download all five (5) strategies you can implement immediately that will double your missions impact.
This post is written by Will Rogers. Will is the Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceReef.