Peer-to-Peer: How can I motivate and retain current volunteers?

October 7, 2013  - by 

Motivating and retaining current volunteers is a common and perplexing challenge for stake indexing directors around the world. Read on to learn how your peers are overcoming this common barrier to success.

“I believe that one of the best initiatives would be to form a synergistic team within each branch, ward, and stake, which would offer emotional and spiritual encouragement. When everyone gathers together to make plans to govern and influence the faithful, marvelous things begin to happen that bring the right solutions.”

A. Frascaro, from Puglia, Italy

“As a stake indexing director in our new stake, I worked out a strategy to get indexers motivated. This plan was given to my high councilor, who took it to our stake presidency. When it was approved, we put it into action. We met with each of the high priests group leaders in their respective wards and asked if they would have a ward indexing coordinator called by the bishop. As they were called, we [would] train and teach them the responsibilities they have to help this sacred work progress in their wards and to love and help their indexers. I hold a stake indexing training meeting each month, where we instruct, train, and teach the indexers and ward coordinators. Our next step is to obtain permission from our stake and bishops to speak in the wards at sacrament meeting or at a time arranged by the bishops. This is how I am trying to motivate and retain our indexers. We now have a great love for each other and a love for the Savior and His work.”

I. Beazley, from Hamilton, New Zealand

“I contact my indexers every month to see how they are doing. I send them personalized thank you notes for their contribution each month and give treats (temporal blessings) to those who improved or did the most work, and I praise them at church.”

J. Deschenes, from Utah, United States

“My response to that question is to try and motivate people in each ward to help you. This is best accomplished if you have priesthood leaders who are excited. Another way a stake indexing director can do this is personal contact by email or phone with those people who need encouragement.”

L. Butler, from Idaho, United States

“I decided there was strength in numbers, and I try and get everyone to do it. As of today, I have 1,090 indexers in my stake. I email each of them at the beginning of the month with a YouTube video, a training link, a letter of appreciation and encouragement, and a table showing how many names each ward has indexed and arbitrated. This always gives a few of them motivation. It also gets indexing back on their minds as well as on the minds of priesthood leaders. Everyone should be involved in some aspect of family history throughout their lives.”

S. Jones, from Utah, United States

“For our stake, I find that what motivates people varies. Some like to be recognized for their hard work, some will index no matter whether there is outside motivation for it, some like to be given a goal to accomplish, some only like to do competition, and some like to do small projects that can be accomplished in a short period of time. I am in the process of having ward indexing specialists called; we have 50 percent of those in place now, and they are excited for this calling. I am finding that continuous training and retraining is another way of keeping interest.”

M. B. Stahle, from California, United States

“Actually, since we did our first group training for the youth in one of our wards, it seems that the adult volunteers, especially in that ward, are perking up with positive attitudes and volunteering. I have more wards wanting youth training, and I’m anxious to see if that trend continues.”

D. Durfee, from Alaska, United States

“It’s important to motivate with the spirit of the work. I find that reminding people of the blessings they can receive by indexing and how indexing is connected to temple work will motivate them. I teach them that the Spirit of Elijah is the Holy Ghost testifying of the importance of families. I help them understand what happens to the family unit after death if their temple work hasn’t been completed. This message has done more to help my ward participate with indexing than any other message. Having a goal and touching base with them weekly on their progress toward their goal will help as well.”

K. Jackson, Utah, United States

“I have just commenced as stake indexing director, and my aim is to talk to as many people as I can and ask them to set a goal for them to do one indexing batch per month as that is an easy goal. Most times, those that do it will tend to more. I have already seen an increase in numbers.”

M. Rimmer, from Victoria, Canada

Some Thoughts from FamilySearch Indexing

  • Organizing indexing at a ward level utilizes the relationships and communication networks that are a natural part of ward life. This organizational level can make it easier for ward members to unify around a specific goal and support and encourage those who need assistance.
  • Ward family history consultants or ward indexing specialists can be an invaluable resource for providing focused training to new indexers and arbitrators or for helping an entire group of ward indexers take on the challenge of a new and unfamiliar record collection.
  • Focusing a ward or stake on a particular indexing project helps to establish widespread local expertise and multiplies the number of people who can provide support to members needing help. This local expertise can also create opportunities for more peer-to-peer interaction, which helps unify members.

Do you have other thoughts on how to motivate and retain volunteers in your stake? Leave a comment below!

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  1. I still think that a “kind reward” could be the most motivating action…
    Why not giving a free access (one year f.e.) to the very interesting database of “” on certain conditions?
    For people of Europe that would finaly bring back “lost” branches of their genealogy ! I still work as an indexer and faithfull member but it makes me unhappy that familysearch has not the same easy “use” of printing and even for searching a complete family… But one day that will certainly come! Albert