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March 2009
Celebrate and Motivate All Volunteers
In This Issue
"Featured Book: Volunteer Management"

More Resources on Recognizing and Motivating Volunteers

Book Excerpt: "Recognizing Volunteers"

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Crocuses peek through the snow...Here in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., March crocuses poke through the ground and remind us that National Volunteer Week for the U.S. and Canada is just around the corner. In fact, celebrations of volunteer achievement are also near in many other areas of the world. As you plan your volunteer recognition celebrations, think of our early spring bloomers and take notice of those volunteers who are just showing the beginning of their potential but taking the lead to achieve something great. Remember that recognition is more than just a "thank-you;" it's one of the strongest motivation techniques you can use. See our resources for recognition and motivation below.
FeatureBookFeatured Book
Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 2nd Edition
Featured Book: Volunteer Management by McCurley and Lynch
Authors Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch designed Volunteer Management to provide the new and the experienced volunteer program manager with both basic knowledge and state of the art information, based on the more than 50 years of experience the authors have acquired in their work with thousands of volunteer programs. A resource no leader of volunteers should be without!
Chapter 12, "Making Volunteers Feel Appreciated," takes volunteer recognition beyond once-a-year events. McCurley and Lynch take a holistic approach by recognizing how different types of recognition motivate individuals and keep them happy and onboard. 
See an excerpt below.
Order the book NOW!
(e-book, US$18.00 )
ResourcesMore Resources on Recognizing and Motivating Volunteers
77 Ways to Recognize Volunteers
An idea-a-page to show real appreciation for volunteers.
Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention
How to enhance volunteer retention and motivation, avoid volunteer burnout, get beyond short-term commitments, and more - subjects of critical interest to every volunteer program manager.
Recognizing Volunteers and Paid Staff
10 Keys to recognizing volunteers -- plus a list of lots and lots of actions you can take to say "thank you."
Training Module 12 in The 55-Minute Training Series: Volunteer Recognition
Helps salaried and volunteer staff appreciate the significance of meaningful recognition and to generate creative formal and informal ways to acknowledge volunteers and staff.
Volunteer Recognition Skit Kit
Have fun at your volunteer recognition events! Seven original skits complete with instructions, complete scripts, song words, and ideas for adaptation.
Resources Book Excerpt
Recognizing Volunteers

Excerpted from Chapter 12 "Making Volunteers Feel Appreciated" in Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 2nd Edition by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch 2006, Johnstone Training and Consultation, Inc.

Volunteers must receive a sense of appreciation and reward for their contribution. This sense can be conveyed through a number of processes, including both formal and informal recognition systems.
Formal Recognition Systems
Formal recognition systems are comprised of the awards, certificates, plaques, pins, and recognition
dinners or receptions to honor volunteer achievement. Many organizations hold an annual ceremony in which individual volunteers are singled out for their achievement.
In determining whether to establish such a formal ceremony, consider the following:
  • Is this being done to honor the volunteer, or so that staff can feel involved and can feel that they have shown their appreciation for volunteers?
  • Is it real and not stale or mechanical?
  • Does it fit? Would the volunteers feel better if you spent the money on the needs of the clients rather than on an obligatory luncheon with dubious food?
  • Can you make it a sense of celebration and a builder of team identity?
Formal recognition systems are helpful mainly in satisfying the needs of the volunteer who has a need for community approval but have little impact (and occasionally have a negative impact) on volunteers whose primary focus is helping the clientele. These volunteers may very well feel more motivated and honored by a system which recognizes the achievements of "their" clients, and also recognizes the contribution that the volunteer has made towards this achievement.
Informal Recognition Practices
The most effective volunteer recognition occurs in the day-to-day interchange between the volunteer and the organization through the staff expressing sincere appreciation and thanks for the work being done by the volunteer.
This type of recognition is more powerful in part because it is much more frequent -- a once-a-year dinner does not carry the same impact as 365 days of good working relationships. Day-to-day recognition may include:
  • Saying "thank you"
  • Involving the volunteer in decisions that affect them
  • Asking about the volunteer's family and showing an interest in their "outside" life
  • Making sure that volunteers receive equal treatment to that given staff
  • Sending a note of appreciation to the volunteer's family
  • Allowing the volunteer to increase their skills by attending training
  • Recommending the volunteer for promotion to a more responsible job
  • Celebrating the volunteer's anniversary with the organization
The intention of day-to-day recognition is to convey a constant sense of appreciation and belonging to the volunteer. This sense can be better conveyed by the thousands of small interactions that compose daily life than it can be conveyed in an annual event. Recognition can begin quite early. A card of welcome sent to a new volunteer, or a small welcome party conveys an immediate sense of appreciation.
Matching Recognition to Types of Volunteers
It is also possible to think about systems of volunteer recognition that are appropriate to particular types of volunteers:
By Motivational Orientation
One could think about the basic motivational needs of individuals when deciding what form of recognition to use, such as:

Achievement-oriented volunteers

  • Ideal result of recognition is additional training or more challenging tasks.
  • Subject for recognition is best linked to a very specific accomplishment
  • Phrasing of recognition through "Best," "Most" awards
  • Recognition decision should include "Checkpoints" or "Records"
  •  Awardee should be selected by co-workers

Affiliation-oriented volunteers

  • Recognition should be given at group event
  • Recognition should be given in presence of peers, family, other bonded groupings
  • Recognition item or award should have a "Personal Touch"
  • Recognition should be organizational in nature, given by the organization
  • Recognition should be voted by peers
  • If primary affiliative bonding is with client, not others in the organization, then the client should take part in the recognition, through a personal note of thanks or as presenter of the award

Power-oriented volunteers

  • Key aspect of recognition is "Promotion," conveying greater access to authority or information
  • Recognition should be commendation from "Names"
  • Recognition should be announced to community at large, put in newspaper
  • Recognition decision should be made by the organization's leadership

Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:
Excerpted from Chapter 12 in Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 2nd Edition, by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch 2006, Johnstone Training and Consultation, Inc. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at

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