An association is often built on the shoulders of its volunteers. That can be a heavy burden to bear, and depending on the volunteer, it may be tough to maintain. And making it even tougher, most associations likely have a policy against volunteers receiving any payment for their roles. So you might need to get creative when it comes to volunteer recognition.
Here are just a few things to consider when you are looking at ways to implement your association recognition program:
Why A Person Volunteers
If you are thinking of starting a volunteer recognition program, start small. Big sweeping gestures are not always necessary. Understanding why people are there in the first place will help lead you down the right path. Not everyone volunteers for the same reason. Some might be volunteering for altruistic intentions of giving back, which is lovely. Others might volunteer to obtain more business for their company or as a job requirement. And there is nothing wrong with that either, but how they look to be acknowledged might be completely different as a result. When you are onboarding a new volunteer, take a quick moment to find out their reasons for offering their time. Therefore, when it comes time to recognize them, you are not at a loss as to how to say thank you.
What Is the Culture of the Association?
If you are creating a volunteer recognition program from scratch, take a moment to reflect on the culture your association represents. Offering a recognition program should reflect your association positively, and not work against that. Your association’s brand is elevated by the time and treasure given by your volunteers. Make sure you take that into account when looking at ways to recognize them. This is not a time for inside jokes if you plan to make it a public event. If you plan on adding volunteer announcements to your social media channels, this is a perfect opportunity to embrace your brand and reinforce it with your public recognition media.
What About the Volunteers Themselves?
Nothing negates the message you are trying to send by not considering the personality of the recipient. Do not present a plaque when you have volunteers who do not have an office in which to showcase it. Similarly, do not offer an honorarium to someone who works for the government or any other company with a gift policy. You are expressing gratitude on behalf of your membership, so make it meaningful to them. That thought will go much further than the gift itself.
Never, and I mean NEVER, underestimate the value of a simple Thank You! We just don’t say it enough. It could be a shout out to your volunteers on social media. It could be a card mailed out (how old school of me), or it could be…gasp…saying it out loud at a meeting! People just want to be recognized for their efforts. So, even if your association does not have budget to throw huge recognition a volunteer’s way, just say thank you out loud or publicly.
Seriously, it can be that simple.