Today starts National Volunteer Week! It seems like it always sneaks up on me and then I scramble to think….oh my gosh…. What am I going to do to recognize our volunteers??? This year, I am not stressing about it because it should not be about recognizing our volunteers during this week – we should be recognizing and thanking our volunteers all year long!!
Recognition comes in many different forms, and volunteers value recognition in different ways. A verbal thank you, a hand written note, a little token of appreciation, a birthday/anniversary card, a formal recognition event. All of these ideas are great ways to say thank you. What do you perceive as gratitude of thanks? There is no right or wrong answer, which is why volunteer recognition must be a mixed bag of showing gratitude.
Here is a list of some of my top 10 ways to show appreciation and recognition all year long to our volunteer work force:
1. Always say Thank YOU!
2. Have a smile on your face when working with volunteers. Volunteers are coming into your organization to help others. They don’t want to hear you complain about your co-workers, other volunteers or problems in your life.
3. Create a comfortable working environment or create their own space to call home.
4. Send a birthday card. Go one step further and have it signed by all your staff and other volunteers they may work with.
5. Recognize anniversary dates.
6. If you see an article about that volunteer (or donor) cut it out and send it to them with a note of congratulations.
7. If you know about a loss of a family member, illness, or if they are just going through a hard time – send them a note of encouragement, a single flower, cup of coffee….. just a simple thing to let them know you are thinking of them during this time.
8. Comment on a volunteers Facebook page with “Great job today” or “Thank you for volunteering”. This also shows their friends and family the good work they are doing within your organization.
9. Show interest and get feedback. Ask volunteers “Are there ways we can improve things, how can we improve your volunteer work, etc?
10. Provide a name badge or some type of logo apparel.
Beside the last one, none of these tips cost much to an organization. The thing is this cannot just be the culture of the Volunteer Department. To be extremely effective, this should be the culture of your entire organization.
On this week and EVERY WEEK I want to say thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who give of their time, energy, blood and support to the American Red Cross. We could not do it without you!