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Successful volunteer recognition programs are thoroughly planned and designed, well-managed, clearly communicated and frequently monitored. Recognition can be as simple as preparing goodie bags or writing thank you notes for volunteers, and as extensive as planning a large-scale recognition or award ceremony.

Some common elements of successful recognition programs are that they incorporate management support and participation, and tie-in with a special day in your program. For example, “National Volunteer Week” occurs each year in April and is specifically intended to celebrate volunteers and their contributions of time and talents.

Share stories and photos of great volunteers both internally and externally with the community at large. Develop a regular cadence of these stories and use communication vehicles that will reach as many volunteers as possible. Produce certificates or a letter of appreciation signed by the manager or coach. Host an annual lunch, dinner or special event to highlight the work of top volunteers and volunteer leaders.

Tap into the State Leadership awards and ask your team members to help with nominations. Recognizing volunteers on a State level can help improve the overall moral within your program. You know your volunteers are working hard, so let everyone else know how grateful you are that they are a member of your team.

You may think you are sufficiently appreciating your volunteers or providing them with constant positive feedback. However, what you perceive as adequate may not be making volunteers feel appreciated. By asking your team the big question about your plans for recognizing volunteers in 2018, you can think about the plan in place and how you can open your program up to new ideas.

Have a discussion around the following questions at your next team meeting - What's the strategic approach? - For example, try this sample framework:

Inspire: What activities will inspire an internal culture of year-round volunteer recognition?

Impact: What should be done to ensure our volunteers see the impact of their work?

Celebrate: How can we effectively recognize the impact of our volunteers year-round?

Please let me know if you would like to discuss how to make Volunteer Recognition happen in your program!

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Manager of Volunteer Services