Recognizing Your Volunteers - Just Ask!

You are here

Have you ever just asked your volunteers how they like to be recognized?

I see so many articles and toolkits and workshops with titles such as “50 ways to recognize your volunteers” or “how to run a successful volunteer recognition program”.  Too often, organizations plan huge volunteer events with awards and recognition gifts - wall art, mugs, t-shirts – which never get used because they aren’t meaningful to the people who receive them.

One of the volunteers I work with recently told me she is motivated by the knowledge that her role has had a positive impact on the program participants, so I now share with her the program evaluation results. It’s a simple step for me to share this information, yet extremely meaningful to her. She was also touched by a small thank you note I sent her to let her know how much I enjoyed working with her.

I always wonder why people make volunteer recognition so complex. We could simplify (and save a lot of time and resources) by asking our volunteers three questions up front:

1. What do you hope to gain from this experience?

2. What would be the best compliment we could give you for a job well done?

3. What would be a nice "bonus" that we could provide as a way to recognize your contribution?

You might learn that most of your volunteers prefer recognition that is personal, meaningful, and often quite simple.

What are some of the unique and meaningful ways that your organization creates meaning for its volunteers?

About the Author

Annastasia Forst contributed her creative and analytic work ethic (not an oxymoron) to Vantage Point as a past Director of Learning. She is passionate about working with many talented knowledge philanthropists to develop, deliver and evaluate Vantage Point’s board and executive leadership...

t: 604 875 9144
f: 604 875 0710
1183 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2X5


Donate to Vantage Point and transform the leadership competencies of British Columbia not-for-profit executive directors, board members, staff and volunteers

Facebook icon.Twitter icon. Twitter icon. Youtube icon.