The month of April has been designated as Volunteer Appreciation Month and this week is recognized as Volunteer Appreciation Week. Maybe you forgot….maybe you didn’t know. It’s not to late to recognize your volunteers.
Volunteers are crucial to the work of nonprofits. Millions of people volunteer each year and provide thousands of hours of service….service that translates to money saved by the organization. As a matter of fact, many nonprofits could not continue serving their communities without the service of volunteers. Unfortunately, far too many nonprofits do a really poor job of appreciating their volunteers.
So, how can your organization demonstrate to its volunteers that their time and talents are truly appreciated?
Begin with the organizational culture. Does your organization have management practices in place that support volunteers? This includes having a job description for the various roles filled by volunteers. In addition, the organization should also ensure that it has adequate resources to support its volunteers. This includes having a workspace for volunteers and ensuring that a paid staff person provides guidance and direction on a regular basis.
The Points of Light Foundation has identified some best practices for recognizing volunteers:
- Make recognition a priority
- Do it often
- Be sincere
- Do it in different ways
- Recognize the person, not the work
- Make it appropriate to the achievement
- Be consistent
- Be timely
- Customize it
Monetary resources are not a reason to skip volunteer appreciation. Some of the best gifts of appreciation do not cost anything, except a small amount of your time.
Spend some time today writing handwritten notes letting your volunteers know they make a difference in the organization.
Visit with your volunteers asking for their input on programming or services-specifically, in the areas where they serve.
Develop a volunteer spotlight to recognize the work of a volunteer in your newsletter, staff meeting or other forum.
Above all, get creative. Think about your volunteers, who they are and why they volunteer. Then, honor them in ways that are meaningful to them. This will demonstrate to your volunteers that you know them and recognize them as individuals.
What have you done to honor your volunteers? Share your ideas with us.