Tips and Tricks: Volunteer Recognition

It’s that time of year. National Volunteer Week is fast approaching, April 6-12, 2014. It’s not always easy to find new ways of showing your appreciation, so we here at Propellus have compiled a list of what some of the our local non-profits do for their volunteers during National Volunteer Week.

  • Volunteer recognition event – An event during National Volunteer Week is a common theme among organizations. It’s not always a dinner, sometimes there are luncheons or wine and cheese events; but the theme is common, a little food goes a long way to showing your volunteers you care.  You can also treat volunteers to the grand celebration of volunteerism during Calgary’s premier volunteer recognition event, the 18th Annual Volunteer Awards!
  • Newsletter recognition – Selina Clary at Silvera for Seniors likes to take a similar approach to volunteer recognition. In addition to their volunteer appreciation event during National Volunteer Week, she likes to give year round recognition on Silvera’s newsletter and website.
  • Handwritten cards – Never under-estimate the effect a hand written card or letter can have. Volunteer managers are so busy, that just taking the time out of your day to personally write a thank you care shows appareciation.
  • Showing their Impact – Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta has found that one of the best ways to show volunteers appreciation, is for those volunteers to see their impact. At their annual volunteer appreciation event, past families who have stayed at the Ronald McDonald house return to speak about the impact volunteers had on them.
  • Membership – Some organizations have a membership model – organizations like the YMCA Calgary. Naturally, contributing to the overall wellness of individuals is very important to the YMCA, and there’s no better way to say thank you than membership. In appreciation for everything their volunteers do, including meeting their monthly time commitment and attending ongoing training, they offer up a YMCA Calgary General membership. Momentum also shows their appreciation for volunteers by giving them the option to opt-into membership.
  • Awards – Volunteers are a notoriously modest bunch, but come on, who doesn’t love an award every now and then. Host an award ceremony or event during National Volunteer Week, where some of your best and brightest volunteers are honoured. Dan St. Yves at the Canadian Diabetes Association makes sure that each year one of his hard-working volunteers gets thanked with a plaque as the Southern Alberta Regional Volunteer of the Year.
  • Name recognition – Deanna Holt at CUPS had a volunteer that really went the extra mile, and had diligently worked on a project. Deanna and the staff at CUPS appreciated the volunteer so much, that they named the project after that volunteer. “So when the time comes for us to recruit someone else to take over her role, the contribution she made will continue to be recognized,” explains Holt. Nothing says that you are appreciated like your name living forever in an organization.

What are some other quick tips on ways to celebrate National Volunteer Week?

  • Media – Contact your local paper and ask them to feature your volunteers as a local story. Don’t limit yourself to just print media, there is television and radio also! Or you could go the contemporary route and give your volunteers a shout-out by name on your social media pages…Facebook is usually a safe bet.
  • Open House – Holding a fun open house where you can invite everyone from staff and your board, to clients and the public. Use that forum to highlight your volunteers contributions and milestones such as: how many years have volunteers been with you? How many hours have they put in?
  • Food – Have we mentioned how much a free tasty meal makes people feel appreciated? It does. Having coffee and muffins available to your volunteers is a great way to say thanks for coming in.

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