While sometimes overlooked, rewarding volunteers is an important and valuable task. If done well, it can motivate them as well as give them the recognition they deserve for offering their services. Yet it is important to take the right steps when rewarding volunteers. Doing so will help your organization run smoothly and make your workers feel valued.
Do your research
Before you hand out rewards, ask yourself what you would like to receive for volunteering. Put yourself in their shoes. This can help you generate ideas. You may also want to ask other organizations. Find out how they have rewarded their volunteers, what works and what does not. Finally, consider who your volunteers are, including their age range, interests, and reasons for volunteering.
An award ceremony
One way to reward volunteers is to hold a special event for them. You may consider having a dinner and award ceremony. Have a respected official speak and thank the volunteers. You can also hand out personal rewards. Medals for different years of service could also be distributed. Small plaques, trophies or gif certificates are other ways to make volunteers feel appreciated.
Put it in writing
If your organization regularly distributes a newsletter, think about putting an article or column in it about your volunteer program. Highlight an individual and her work. Contact local newspapers and other publications about the important work your volunteers are doing. They may run a story on the event or a profile of a particular volunteer. You can also put up a bulletin board at your meeting place. On it, include special acknowledgments of the volunteers, post article clippings, and take pictures of the volunteers. Also put words of encouragement on the bulletin board.
Make it personal
When rewarding volunteers, make sure that they know you care about and appreciate them. Volunteers want to feel needed and useful. Shake hands with the volunteers. Smile at them and personally thank them. Talk to them about the organization's needs. Ask them to help solve problems. By getting involved and building relationships with them, volunteers are more likely to feel rewarded and serve for longer periods of time. Be sure to be honest and sincere when talking to them.
Set the tone
The overall atmosphere of your organizations can encourage volunteers to stay or make them want to leave. Look for ways to set an optimistic and upbeat environment. Tell the volunteers that they are doing a good and important job. Make sure that praise is given in a timely and consistent manner.
By rewarding the volunteers at your club or organization, you will reap lasting benefits. Many volunteers will stay and help for longer periods of time. This will provide aids for your group.
As you look for new volunteers, be sure to let them know that they will be appreciated. You may want to set up a schedule for rewarding the volunteers. Have a volunteer of the month or go on an annual retreat with the group. There are many little things you can do to reward your volunteers for all the work they've done. These small steps will lead to lasting results.