Recognizing the important work done by volunteers is hardly a new concept. In addition to boosting their morale, it gives officers of an organization a chance to do something a little different when it comes to making a difference.
Sometimes, it even offers face-to-face possibilities that don’t exist during the work week.
One popular form of volunteer recognition is, of course, the dinner, luncheon, banquet, whatever it is called. It can involve some spending, but nonprofit managers usually consider it a worthwhile expense.
Susan J. Ellis, president of Energize, a Philadelphia, Pa.-based firm specializing in volunteering, supports the idea of recognition but thinks it might be time to start thinking anew about the approach. Just as food can get stale when sitting out for too long, so can ideas about volunteer recognition. Ellis suggests the following ideas to freshen things up:
- Only offer great desserts and invite every volunteer who served during the year, even those who only came in once for a single day of service;
- Organize a moveable feast (i.e., make people move around);
- Use nametags with not just a name, but interesting info;
- Eliminate the stuffy speeches;
- Provide an opportunity for volunteers to speak;
- Offer something educational; and,
- Give volunteers a choice of what to attend.