”Volunteering is a fundamental building block of civil society. It brings to life the noblest aspirations of humankind – the pursuit of peace, freedom, opportunity, safety, and justice for all people.” ~ Universal Declaration on Volunteering, 2001.
Research reveals that volunteer recognition is tied to volunteer retention rates. Volunteers who feel their contributions are appreciated are more likely to uphold their volunteer commitments.
Getting to know your volunteers as individuals allows you to learn the type of recognition each volunteer would like to receive. Each act should be tailored to the individual and it should suit the volunteer’s personality and level of engagement.
Volunteer recognition begins during the recruitment process. Understanding what volunteers look for in the volunteer experience is a form of recognition. Today, volunteers are more goal-oriented, tech-savvy and mobile than ever before. And the types of volunteer positions they seek have evolved to reflect this. Being flexible and offering volunteers the type of roles they want is another effective form of recognition.
Recognizing where volunteers are in their lifecycle and what role volunteering plays in their life is critical to the recruitment, retention and recognition processes. The conditions, schedule and format of volunteering are important factors for people when selecting an organization.
Studies show that most volunteers believe the best form of recognition is to know the impact of their work. Organizations can demonstrate their appreciation by showing volunteers how their individual efforts make an impact on the organization’s mission and in the community.
In many cases, National Volunteer Week is the time to formally recognize volunteers. But day-to-day appreciation is also crucial to keeping volunteers engaged year round. Why not make the effort to recognize volunteers year round? It may be less work than you think. Recognition can range from a simple “thank you” to a conscious effort to include volunteers in high-level decision-making related to their work.
National Volunteer Week began in 1943 as a way to draw attention to the impact women were having on the war effort by volunteering on the home front. By the late 1960s, the focus shifted to celebrating all community volunteers, recognizing that volunteerism was integral to the success of our communities.
Over 13.3 million Canadians volunteer their skills, time and energy to provide a high level of provide support and assistance to their communities. Volunteers can be seen helping in a hospital, supporting disaster relief efforts, coaching sports teams, sharing historical information and coordinating festivals and events.
Volunteers aspire to make our communities better places to live for everyone. They inspire and encourage others to participate. Volunteers do it because they believe in something—healthy and safe neighbourhoods, active living, helping others and being engaged in their community. National Volunteer Week April 6-12 this year pays tribute to these millions of people who give freely of their time and energy. Celebrate the impact volunteers have your community.
See more at: www.volunteer.ca and click on “Engaging Volunteers” and then “Volunteer Recognition.”
Special to The Banner