by Christy Monroe
My hectic morning raced into early afternoon and I sat at my desk looking at the piles of work that lay before me. The post-lunch-energy-drain was settling in when a colleague of mine called to say, “Thanks for all of your hard work on this project. We couldn’t have done it without your help.” It wasn’t just the words, but the inflection behind them that made me feel appreciated. That little bit of recognition went a long way- my energy levels began to rise, my brain cleared a bit, and my motivation for tackling the rest of the afternoon reemerged.
There’s no denying that recognition is a key component in motivating people, but volunteers often live for it. In fact, apart from the warm, fuzzy feeling of helping their community it may be their only payment for services.
Here are 3 simple ways to recognize volunteers without spending a dime:
1. Say “thank you” and mean it. A simple, tried and true method that somehow is overlooked all too often. There’s a reason why these two little words are taught to adorable little tots by their loving parents. Not only is it good manners to say “thank you,” but conveying appreciation tends to work magic the next time that you need someone’s help.
2. Show respect and trust in their ability. This falls under the same category as “don’t micromanage” and tends to give people confidence in their capabilities. Confidence is a good feeling and a significant motivator in getting a job done efficiently and effectively. Give volunteers positive feedback on a job well done, remember their name, and give them meaningful tasks. More importantly, show them that you have faith in them by giving them projects with decision making power, utilizing their skills, and letting them spread their wings over time.
3. Connect the dots-show the value of their work. Make it a regular practice to remind your volunteers how their work fits into the overall mission of your organization. Paint the whole picture of how their efforts are propelling that mission forward. Answer the unspoken questions, “Is this worth my time? Am I really making a difference?”
There are thousands of ways to recognize volunteers every day. What are your favorite ways to show your appreciation to volunteers? Leave a comment and let us know.
Here are more resources on volunteer motivation and recognition.