Tips for Recognizing Volunteers

It is National Volunteer Week in the U.S. and Canada, a chance to thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, brains and brawn to causes they care about in their community and around the world. There are many ways to recognize volunteers this week and throughout the year. Here are four of my favorites:

  1. Treat volunteering seriously. In Canada, Volunteer Alberta suggests that a well-organized volunteer program sends the message that the organization values its volunteers. Learn more.
  2. Know why they do it. Volunteer recognition begins during the recruitment process. Understanding what volunteers look for in the volunteer experience and being flexible by offering the types of roles they want is a way to recognize your volunteers. For example, if your volunteer is seeking new skills to improve their chances for paid employment, providing references and job coaching may be the best way to recognize your volunteer.
  3. Before, during and after service, make it clear that volunteer efforts matter. Research shows that most volunteers want to know the impact of their efforts. Take a cue this week from United Way of Greater Augusta, which is rallying about 250 volunteers to complete projects like painting at the Boys & Girls Club, planting potatoes at the educational farm Project Grows, building handicap accessible ramps with Renewing Homes, sorting food at the food bank, cleaning up gardens at the Valley Mission Shelter, and prepping and delivering food with Meals on Wheels.
  4. Make recognition public. Receiving a tangible mark of recognition before one’s peers deepens connections to the cause. Recognition activities should be customized to the individual and reflect their level of engagement. United Way of Greater Lafayette’s 21st Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon will present awards to four nominated volunteers and present Community Service Certificates of Excellence to all volunteers.

How do you honor the impact of change makers in your communities?