by Pat Veitch and Kimberly Williams
What are the two most powerful motivational words in a volunteer organization? "Thank you." Feeling appreciated and valued motivates people to continue to work together. Here are some creative ideas to keep your volunteer engine running.
"When I was chair of the Houston Group, I instituted a 'volunteer of the month' award," says Drusha Mayhue, now a member of the Club's Organizational Effectiveness Governance Committee. "We gave the award to someone who had made an extraordinary effort the previous month, like making all the phone calls for an event or driving stuff back and forth all day to the garage sale. This award recognized a person's efforts, no matter how small or mundane, and also educated members about the kinds of jobs we needed done as an all-volunteer organization."
The San Diego Chapter recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a reception honoring members and champions in the community. Former chapter chair Lori Saldaņa says that in addition to giving awards to chapter members who are active volunteers, they look to the business, political and legal communities and other environmental organizations that have helped achieve local Club goals during the year. "We cannot do it all ourselves, so we reinforce our working relationships with others in the county," says Saldaņa.
At the annual meeting of the Vermont Chapter, "Power of One" awards are given to activists who persevered on an issue before it became mainstream. "We award people who stood alone bravely when the rest of us just didn't get it," says Lea Terhune, chapter volunteer coordinator and political chair. "We often acknowledge the power of the group and the leader, but fail to recall the lone voice that began the call for justice."
Expressing appreciation involves more than just award ceremonies. Thank your volunteers frequently for achievements big and small. "Our chapter submits names for recognition to regional community award events, such as those put on by the city/county parks and recreation departments and other non-profits," says Geoffrey Smith of the San Diego Chapter
Nancy Rauch, conservation chair of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Group, has yet another idea. "Awards and recognition are important, but just as important is having fun! So throw a party with great food and good music. Enjoy yourselves and recognize those above-and-beyond-the-call activists with special awards. Make it a special evening everyone will remember."
Go on to the next article, "Don't Buy, Simplify"
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