This week (April 16-22), we’re celebrating National Volunteer Week! This year’s theme is volunteering weaves us together. Volunteers provide our organizations with people power and necessary skills and expertise. Volunteering contributes to the strength and vibrancy of our organizations and our community. We want to ensure volunteers have an enjoyable experiences with us. Today, we’re sharing three tips to help you excel at volunteer appreciation so that you may celebrate your volunteers this week and every day.
One way to celebrate volunteers is to set them up for success by training them effectively at the outset. Orient them to your organization and the vision, mission, and values. Teach them about all of your programs and services. Share who the key contacts are as well as the policies that they should be aware of. Teach them skills that relate to their specific role. This investment can show volunteers that you genuinely care about them and their personal development.
In addition to training, it’s important to check in with your volunteers. Check in regularly to ensure they’re comfortable and have everything they need in their role. Could they use a clip board to make their job easier? A whistle? Do they need additional support or different information? Ensure that they have the tools, the information, and ways to ask for support.
Training your volunteers benefits both your organization and your volunteers. It empowers them to work more effectively and efficiently and training supports higher performance and longer-term involvement.
Support Meaningful Contribution
Laying out clearly defined roles, responsibilities and time commitments shows you are respectful and appreciative of a person’s time and willingness to volunteer. Defining the role also helps with recruitment. Many people won’t commit to something if they don’t understand exactly how it will fit within their schedule. Make it easy to say yes because volunteers understand what they’re getting into.
Some volunteers are looking to make a difference in their community. Just like you would write a grant follow-up report to highlight a grant helped make your event possible, share an impact report to your volunteers to show how they helped you achieve your goals. Include metrics like how many people attended, or how many people were helped, funds raised, and what’s now possible as a result of their efforts. Share how their help ensured the success of your event and paint a bigger picture of how the event or organization contributes to the betterment of your community. This is one simple email or newsletter that can make a big difference.
Make volunteer appreciation a priority. This helps you keep the volunteers you currently have and ensures that when it comes to recruitment of new volunteers, you have a reputation for treating them well. Making someone within your organization the designated person for managing volunteers, which includes volunteer appreciation, will greatly increase your changes of appreciating your volunteers well. By assigning someone to this job, you will be able to build relationships with those volunteers, learn and understand their needs and interests, and engage in the process of appreciating on an ongoing basis.
It should go without saying that when using any method of appreciation, it should be done with sincerity. Volunteers are giving up their time to help your event or organization and even the most extravagant form of appreciation would be hollow without sincerity. Handwritten notes are a great way to show sincere appreciation. Or a heartfelt phone call or personal shout-out. Remember to recognize the person, not the work. If you can, mention something that relates directly to them or that they did to add a personal touch.
Appreciation with Flair
Volunteer appreciation is necessary but there are endless ways to make it enjoyable! Brainstorm different ways you could appreciate your volunteers and try different things! Get your creativity flowing. As they say, when you put a smile out there, you get a smile back.