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Apr 03

Celebrate National Volunteer Week (Apr 12-18)

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 10:36 AM by Web Master

National Vol Week
National Volunteer Week is a designated time in April to honour and celebrate volunteerism. The voluntary sector often uses this time to recognize and appreciate volunteers. What exactly does this mean? Well, it can mean different things to different people. Recognition can range from a verbal thank you to a medal from the Governor General or Prime Minister. Did you ever notice how the words recognition and appreciation evoke all kinds of conundrums for people? Puzzlement like:
  • Who is responsible for volunteer recognition?
  • Should it be done privately or publicly?
  • Should it be individual recognition or collective recognition?
  • Should it be serious or can it be silly and lighthearted?
  • Should it be costly or economical?
  • Should it be once a year or more frequent?
  • Do we endorse incentives and rewards?
  • How can we be fair?
These are all reasonable questions, and there is no cookie cutter solution. Think of volunteer recognition methods that are representative of your organization and its mission. Despite the form of recognition, the heart of the matter is relating why volunteers are appreciated and how they make a difference. Without volunteer help, a lot of important work would never get done.

Use National Volunteer Week as a reminder to regularly engage with volunteers. Be personable with your volunteers. Describe their key work and specify what they contribute. Articulate the impact that their involvement has on the organization, cause, event, activity, or people in general. Explain how their volunteer efforts are supportive of the bigger picture. Recap what they did or continue to do. Notice them and remind them that they matter. Understand their roles and responsibilities and share the success. Continue to offer meaningful work. Tedious work needs celebrating, too! Remain people-focused and interested. Get to know volunteers on a deeper level. For example, delivering a complimentary gourmet coffee to a devout tea drinker is not meaningful. Try to understand what motivates them to help. Survey volunteers or ask them to vote on a volunteer recognition idea. Did you know that the number one motivator to volunteer is personal satisfaction? Although, most people don’t volunteer for the accolades, saying a sincere thank you is still very important.

Recognizing and appreciating volunteers doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does require attention. Valuing volunteers is so very important! It’s not about the certificates, pins, and mugs – it’s about the impact volunteers have in our community and nation. It’s about letting people know how much they matter. During National Volunteer Week, let us reflect on the value of volunteerism and overcome the conundrums that often impede saying thank you.