Volunteer Managers/Coordinator time is limited with many of you working part time so it’s good to think clearly at the start of the year how, how much and when you want to thank and recognise your volunteers and plan accordingly.
At the last Volunteer Management Network meeting we discussed the upcoming Volunteers Week 1-12 June and had a good discussion around rewarding and recognising our volunteers.
Here’s some of the ways in which our network goes about recognising and rewarding Southwark volunteers.
- Thank you cards – individual personalised cards thanking volunteers for their contribution. Great tool if you have less than 20 volunteers. Not so great if you have 300!
- Thank you email – a great tool when you have too many to thank. Draft it and get the Chief Executive or Chair of Trustees to send it. What should it contain? A massive THANK YOU and maybe some statistics about the number of people all the volunteers have reached and something about the work they have achieved as a collective E.g. supported 27 art session, helped 25 young people complete application forms etc. Finally add something about the impact – 40 clients felt less isolated from attending the drop in.
- Office Coffee mornings – get staff and volunteers together at a drop in Open Morning. Get them all to bring in homemade cakes and biscuits and share a cup of tea and a cupcake together. No costs involved and brings everyone together in an informal environment.
- Bring a Friend for Tea – an office coffee morning with a twist. Invite volunteers in for an Office Coffee Morning but encourage them to bring a friend. A great opportunity to spread the word about your work to new people and also to sign up new volunteers. Do a short presentation (with cake of course) and tell them all about the amazing work of your volunteers and what more volunteers could achieve.
- Socials – some organisations have small budgets to something a little more formal. An evening down the pub with some food and first drink on the house is a great way to say thank you if you have the budget.
- Post Work Drinks – many organisations have a tradition of popping down the pub as a team once in a while. Invite your volunteers. It makes them feel part of the organisation and is a chance for staff to get to know them, especially if they volunteer outside the office.
- Organise a Volunteer day out – there are many places of interest that offer free access to the public and some for community groups. In Southwark we have the magnificent Imperial War Museum – it’s free to enter so get everyone to bring a picnic to make a day of it. Dulwich Picture Gallery offers community tickets which get you into the paid collections for free. And though it’s a little journey away, Kew Gardens offer free admission to community groups.
- Your Website - write an article about the great work of your volunteers and stick it up on your website during Volunteering Week, along with photos.
Some key things to think about:
- How do your volunteers want to be thanked? Ask them when they join.
- Think about the demographic of your volunteer group and plan events at sociable times e.g. after work, at the weekend
- Don’t try and over do it by inviting too many people to an event. If it’s a volunteer event, think about whether it should be kept just for volunteers.
- Go easy with the certificates – by asking volunteers how they want to be recognised and thanked it will be clear who wants them and who doesn’t.
- Not everyone likes a surprise – if you want to give special thanks to a long term volunteer, think about whether they would like to know in advance or whether they would like all the attention.
Happy Volunteer Week everyone!
Community Southwarks volunteer support
Community Southwark are running a number of special activities over Volunteers Week. If you would like to book a place at one of our volunteering fairs or outreach events please e-mail Marissa@communitysouthwark.org
Or if you would like any support with Volunteer Management do email Marissa or call: 020 7358 7252.
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