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How best to recognize the efforts of volunteers - ideas needed please!  RSS feed

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I don't quite know which forum this should be in, but here's my request.

I volunteer two local non-profits that focus on urban permaculture/sustainability. Much work is done by volunteers. Not enough has been done to recognize the efforts of these volunteers. In one case, a major meltdown occurred because of this lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of volunteers. I am on the advisory committee to get this organization back on its feet again and on the right track. They have done some amazing things but have failed at others. Appreciating volunteers is one of the areas that they need most help in.

So the question becomes - what are some ways that the organization(s) can make volunteers feel more acknowledged and appreciated? If you are or have been a volunteer, what made you keep volunteering? If you stopped volunteering - why? What are some of the things the organization could have done to retain you as a volunteer?

Note on the org where there was a meltdown. There have been various problems at various times. One issue that was taken care of was the removal of a very egotistical person in charge - they had a hard time seeing the "little people" who were putting in a ton of effort for the org. After this removal, the org grew quite a bit and I think the Exec Dir was overwhelmed by other things and just didn't pay enough attention to the volunteers. There is now a third Exec Dir, trained in non-profit management, who is looking very specifically at volunteer retention and ways of healing some wounds created by the first two leaders. I feel optimistic that she can accomplish this.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:If you are or have been a volunteer, what made you keep volunteering? If you stopped volunteering - why? What are some of the things the organization could have done to retain you as a volunteer?


I'm more of a repeat, one time volunteer. IOW, I'm often asked to bake bread or a pie for various fund raisers. When do I stop baking? When they stop asking! This has happened quite a bit, usually when people in charge change so I'd say keep a written list of people willing to volunteer and keep asking even if the people in charge of that committee change.

Plaques with peoples names & years are always good. Especially for specific projects.
 
allen lumley
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Jen : Make sure that you have a block of time big enough that you can always accomplish a stated goal ! It may not be your only goal (!), but make sue everyone
can see the results of their work in some small tangible way ! Some people can be perfectly happy with a Thank You ! Most people like simple jobs with stated goals

If you have built up a team that quickly starts to exceed your stated goals, then use Team or Block Captains to build a team identity and get the crew to show up
together and early so that there IS time to get the task done, Team captains are in charge of head counts, making sure every one has enough water and gets potty
breaks. If you have to use some one as guide or lookout to point people in the right direction, make sure they are checked up on fairly often, and make a plan to
see that that does not happen again !

I have the attitude that when joe blow runs for office and does not get elected his signs are up for grabs, a sheet of white paper, some school glue and you have all
the " This way to the Egress " signs you will ever want !

Name tags : Todays safety challenges are meet by florescent safety vests, as much as possible team captains should have their own vests, and be encouraged to
customize them, this clearly shows new volunteers who the 'old hands' are-who to go to with a 'am i doing this right?" question or help keep things moving when the
team runs out of widgets !

Team captains should also know where there is adequate or additional parking, and if the group is moving to a restaurant or rented/borrowed meeting hall -does
everyone know how to get there !

do you have a Facebook page that only administrators can post to- Recognition, recognition, recognition, make use of Facebook's Private Messages ! before and after
every event !

This is a good way to tell members we value your opinion, please send me a note so that your good idea does not get lost !

I think I still need to hold forth on feeding your volunteers some more, and tickets for door prizes and gift baskets but you've got enough to think about for 37
seconds anyway ! Big AL
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Cj Verde wrote:I'm more of a repeat, one time volunteer. IOW, I'm often asked to bake bread or a pie for various fund raisers. When do I stop baking? When they stop asking! This has happened quite a bit, usually when people in charge change so I'd say keep a written list of people willing to volunteer and keep asking even if the people in charge of that committee change.


The written list - YES! Especially for those "one off" volunteers. This is a situation I often run up against when my neighborhood does activities. I can tell you with 99.9% accuracy who the folks are who can be counted on to bring some yummy homemade treat to the event - and are tickled pink to be asked to make this signature treat. I especially make it known that there are requests for said treat - because there always ARE requests.

Cj Verde wrote:Plaques with peoples names & years are always good. Especially for specific projects.


Yes! I often wondered if anyone liked this besides me. AND I wonder how to make these more "permaculture". Recycled materials? Local producers? Other thoughts?

As an expansion to the "plaque" as a symbol of recognition, I have been advocating for a signage system for a few years. It function similarly to a girl scout/boy scout badge sash and would be posted on the front gate, wall, etc of the home. (remember we're in an urban setting - lots of walk-by and drive-by interest). Brad Lancaster does this on his property in Tucson and it has been phenomenally successful. The sign would indicate that the property was practicing permaculture principles and would show badges of each type of activity on site (some practices would not have badges as they are currently under the radar like composting toilets). It could be that various local orgs would hand out badges upon inspecting a site (native plant Society, Rare fruit growers, Watershed Management, etc). There would definitely be a "community" badge and one way to earn it would be to volunteer. Thoughts?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Al! I'm going to take some time to answer your post. But - before we get any further - please give me your food thoughts for the following:

Event: Water harvesting installation (could be earthworks, greywater, stormwater, cistern, or combination)

Event description - usually a 5 hour event held in the morning ('cause it gets too freakishly hot here to do anything in the afternoon - except for a couple months)

Activities include: digging, installing tubing, rockwork, digging, cement work, planting, digging, breaks for explaining next steps and educational notes, digging...

Snacks usually include: lots and lots of water, sometimes other drinks like iced tea, fruit juice (usually homemade, esp in citrus season) or sodas. I don't think there has ever been hot beverages served. Usually there are granola bars, fruit, sometimes baked goods/donuts, trail mix. Crackers of various types, chips (sometimes with dips), fresh veggie plate and cheese have also been served.

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO SEE AT THIS EVENT?
And no, we can't fire up a grill or have booze while the workshop is going on due to liability issues.
 
allen lumley
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Jenn W. : I will re-phase this to 'surface mining'! This is work ! Some times if you are lucky a drift or sand bar can be washed or carried downstream, with little addition
of physical energy from Volunteers ! There is a specific point in the change in grade of landscape, and specifically drainage courses , that will increase the Oxygen
carrying and cooling effects (affects?) of the stream course !

Hydraulic Engineering has an unfortunate history of removing the 'overburden' and raping the natural fertility of a given Natural ecology, this does not by itself mean
thatall hydraulic/geo mining is Automatically bad, Mother Nature itself has done much worse ( study the unfortunate history of the Salton Sea )

Any storm water/cistern construction and water harvesting has many positive outcomes, often the introduction of these catchment basins are all that is needed to
preserve a threaten'd native species. Indeed,centuries old storm water / cisterns left by the Anasazi people still successfully keep small pools of various amphibian,
reptile/bird and mammal species alive and thriving in very challenging locations through out the Southwest Americas !

Guy/event snacks = Meat ! Repeat as needed ! In really hot weather this quickly slides to eggs with meat and cheese in it, (Rancho Huevos)and cheese with meat and
or eggs ! as the temperature goes up the food requirements slide towards Fruits !

However even saying that , consider starting a work session that begins or ends with a with a 'tasting class' for potable beverages and promises to 'deliver ' a finished
product in - ? several weeks ?

You would be surprised by the number of people who are home brew craftsmen who, if allowed to feel that they are contributing 'to the cause' will freely give of their
expertise, skills and craftsmanship in the name of (fill in the blank ) cause !

With support from your local community ( the store whose parking lot almost never gets flooded any more) various door prizes should be awarded, minimum number
of tickets (earned for field work and individual efforts recognized by group captains ) to actual prizes should be 8 : 1 , individual prizes can be -loofahs grown in a local
Garden, mushroom logs, Wasp and/or bat houses, Mason Bee homes, ( with over 130 + kinds you must have some !) jumper cables, cheap multi-tools, rain ponchos
( that one is always good - for a laugh ! )

A very useful prize would always be a wheelbarrow, the little old lady who usually wins the wheel barrow or a electrical generator can feel great as she donates the prize
back to 'the group'

I have a million more ! This is just a matter of thinking in terms of the group you want to collect / serve !

Only because I do not expect to be taken seriously -I repeat the story of the young lady who -when she heard the group organizer say that they ''all of use should work
like Beavers"! ASKED '' how do beavers work? and was told " With Their Tails" - - She replied ''sign me up for 20 hours a week !'' For the Good of the Cause ! Big AL !

Late note ! There are out there, special people who enjoy/love rock work and rip/rap, do try to keep them busy, and surrounded by people who have a deep spiritual
love for what these craftsmen are doing, this is a ''cast you bread on the waters and it will be returned to you ten-fold'' thing ! It must be, believed in to begin to
understand people who can lay-up 'dry walls' of stone soon learn a cosmic rhythm , and will not be satisfied with anything less than lifetime perfection ! A. L.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:
Cj Verde wrote:Plaques with peoples names & years are always good. Especially for specific projects.


Yes! I often wondered if anyone liked this besides me. AND I wonder how to make these more "permaculture". Recycled materials? Local producers? Other thoughts?


A park that did some fundraising put each person's name who donated a certain amount on a brick. So the brick served 2 purposes. You could do similar with edging. Bricks or rocks around trees with the names of people who planted/donated/whatever the tree.

I do like the idea of the badges on peoples homes.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Here is what Brad Lancaster is doing with signage at his place in Tucson (starts at about 0:07 to 0:12) - I envision something like this only perhaps one sign with spaces for individual stickers or something.

 
Landon Sunrich
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Cj Verde wrote:
I'm more of a repeat, one time volunteer.


this really does seem like the best way to approach volunterism in my view. Getting involved with lengthy projects where every thing is dependent on several volunteers having multi-stage planning, tasks, and autonomous direction is far too often a recipe for a mess. I mean, not always though. Just a lot. Specially when it involves "groups" instead of natural more or less spontaneous mutual associations

I'll keep chewing on this one Jennifer and see if I come up any better ideas along the gist of your original query.
 
Ann Torrence
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO SEE AT THIS EVENT?
And no, we can't fire up a grill or have booze while the workshop is going on due to liability issues.

A portable shade canopy for breaks.
Music to work by. Preferably live and local. But even an IPhone playlist would do.
We bought a portable PA system that works on bluetooth to a music source at Costco for not too much. Has a microphone and wheels like a rolling suitcase.

A super tasteful thank you gift for an event like that would be to get a big box store to donate some work gloves for all the participants. Can't ever have excess gloves. I don't need another sport water bottle, ball-cap or t-shirt, but gloves! Where do they go?
 
Charles Tarnard
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A note on the music:

I'd you go with recorded music, have at least a small variety of styles. It's really tough for me to work for hours on end listening to country western music. It's likewise very difficult for a country western fan to listen to my grisly rock music for any length of time. Any reasonable person can deal with a little bit of both, though. I've found everyone can stand some sort of jazz funk combo, although it's first on few peoples' playlist.

I don't have an excellent answer for you Jennifer. I think in the end people just want to be thanked a lot. Show your appreciation through proper planning, publication of individual efforts, and repeated thank yous.

Good luck.
 
Kieran Vancouver
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:
Cj Verde wrote:I'm more of a repeat, one time volunteer. IOW, I'm often asked to bake bread or a pie for various fund raisers. When do I stop baking? When they stop asking! This has happened quite a bit, usually when people in charge change so I'd say keep a written list of people willing to volunteer and keep asking even if the people in charge of that committee change.


The written list - YES! Especially for those "one off" volunteers. This is a situation I often run up against when my neighborhood does activities. I can tell you with 99.9% accuracy who the folks are who can be counted on to bring some yummy homemade treat to the event - and are tickled pink to be asked to make this signature treat. I especially make it known that there are requests for said treat - because there always ARE requests.

Cj Verde wrote:Plaques with peoples names & years are always good. Especially for specific projects.


Yes! I often wondered if anyone liked this besides me. AND I wonder how to make these more "permaculture". Recycled materials? Local producers? Other thoughts?

As an expansion to the "plaque" as a symbol of recognition, I have been advocating for a signage system for a few years. It function similarly to a girl scout/boy scout badge sash and would be posted on the front gate, wall, etc of the home. (remember we're in an urban setting - lots of walk-by and drive-by interest). Brad Lancaster does this on his property in Tucson and it has been phenomenally successful. The sign would indicate that the property was practicing permaculture principles and would show badges of each type of activity on site (some practices would not have badges as they are currently under the radar like composting toilets). It could be that various local orgs would hand out badges upon inspecting a site (Native Plant Society, Rare fruit growers, Watershed Management, etc). There would definitely be a "community" badge and one way to earn it would be to volunteer. Thoughts?


Keeping a list of volunteers (with contact details) is a great idea. You can even go high-tech with this and get into "constituent relationship management" software -- there is at least one good free / open source option. This can take a lot of work to set up, though, and probably isn't worthwhile unless you're a very big organisation.

You should also think about keeping some kind of log of volunteer hours. You'd have to explain that it is only for the purposes of volunteer recognition, and make it optional (since some people get paranoid about you gathering information about them), but it gives you an objective basis for deciding who to recognise. You can then set up levels of recognition. Volunteer X many hours, get a badge. Volunteer X more hours, get recognised on the plaque as a super-volunteer. And so on.

For plaques, salvaged wood can be made to look good with a bit of sanding, varnish, and maybe even some carving if somebody has the skills. A wood burning pen is a good way of engraving names and designs.

Badges are a great idea, as are certificates. You should also consider hosting a semi-formal awards ceremony, with an accompanying party (maybe partly subsidised if your group has funds). This could also be part of your AGM.

Material, in-kind recognition also works, depending on what your organisation provides. Space in garden beds? Use of shared tools?
 
Michael Bush
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My family just purchased a small 1/2 acre plot we are turning into a teaching center and high end specializd truck garden but we are doing some permie stuff including a food forrest underneath some mature pecan and figs.

SO, what we do now is list people who give a LOT of help on our website, we give most people who help food and veggies from the gardens, but MOSTLY we praise their efforts, and do the little things to take care of them.

We get ice for the coolers, make a show of bringing them water, we host a potluck that is for volunteers only and we provide the BBQ and beer/wine. We make them feel appreciated.

For some who do a lot, we let them "own" a project they are interested it, herb spirals, garden beds, etc.

Facebook is a great way to spotlight someone at no cost, they get to share it on their own page. Make them a special T shirt, lots of ways to do it cheaply.

Bottom line, is you need good people to manage volunteers, if done well, they are wonderful resources...
 
Scott Strough
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Best thing is a volunteer party/ Bar B Q/ Day at the park, pool. or lake chip in picnic and/or what not. Whatever is appropriate. Just invite volunteers. Paid positions, if any, provide the beer, cost to rent the facilities etc..... out of their own pocket.
 
Dawn Hoff
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When I've volunteered /the/ single most important criteria for returning has been the other volunteers, the atmophere while we work.

I would never do any volunteer work for a plaque if it was not fun to participate. Actually - a plaque would be a nice recognition, but of no importance what so ever.

I used to be on the board of a student union, and we had some really clear "rules" as to how volunteers were thanked - eg. If you have worked an entire weekend to cook for a major event, we treated you to a dinner/party something afterwards (if we compared the price of catering to having volunteers, a dinner was really cheap).

You show up - you have influence on what we do. We did not spend hours and hours on committees deciding how when or where - the board set a budget and the framework - the volunteers were trusted with the rest.

Great food (some times made by volunteers).
 
Cheach Tito
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Hey.
Up until recently I shared responsibility for recruiting, training and, most importantly, retaining volunteers for an organic foods coop where I volunteer myself. So I visited a bigger organization nearby that actually has paid staff to manage their volunteers to consult with them. This is what I found out by talking to them and through our own experience.
Parties are key. Good food is the most important, and booze if you can afford it. Only invite the actual volunteers, not family (OK, little kids can come). Also invite recent volunteers who may have become less active lately. They may come back. Make a little speech to thank the group and print up nice certificates that you or somebody else respected in the group signs and are handed out individually.
Send out real paper cards by snail mail, again signed, for birthdays or maybe a date that’s important to the group.
Acknowledge them on your e-media, with photos.
Always treat them with true respect. Sounds simple but when we’re overloaded it’s easy to take ppl for granted. Have events/projects as well organized as possible so they don’t stress of feel like they’re wasting their time. Take the time to thank them and let them know how their efforts contributed to the group’s objectives and listen to their input. Maybe give them some follow-up info.
Be attentive to conflicts between volunteers and between volunteers and staff. It may be very subtle, but important enough that the volunteer will quit. This is tricky since people may not be very forthcoming or may not want to be seen as complainers. It’s essential that they know their comments will be held in strict confidence.
 
                    
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I really don't get the whole 'volunteer thing'. Where is it correct to ask someone else, to do work, for free/severely under compensated?

The only answer I can fathom is if the volunteer 'wants to'. So you might identify why the volunteer 'wants to' participate in any endeavor. Pitiful if the core volunteer 'want to' is based on food alone, hopefully the management shall motivate to a higher value than that. Basic care of volunteers should naturally include safety provision/requirements, the facility layout, special clothing, water, salt tablets, first aid, etc... proper training, and accountability/leadership with the ability to properly & promptly handle any problems should arise is a valuable form of encouragement to volunteers. I'm not talking about some obscure flyer stapled to the wall, I'm saying a proper--complete orientation for all to easily understand, any new volunteer has no idea what to expect of your operation...so give them what they need to function happily!

Some people are religious/spiritual oriented, and part of their creed might be to 'donate 10%' as a tithe, therefore a 'receipt for services rendered' (typically used for tax purposes), should be offered to every volunteer laborer, or anyone that donates any type of supply, tool, transportation to & from the worksite, food, shelter, ...etc. I think the dollar valuation should be left to the volunteer themselves to determine. {Similar if you donate a box of books to your local library, you may value your book donation, at what you think right...not what someone else says they are worth}. The practical reason for such a receipt is that most people that have any kind of income during the year, might use the volunteer receipt, attempting to offset some of their normal income thru the federal & state tax code. Encourage what you have verified as legitimate expense receipts. If a guy says his time is worth $45/hour...believe him, but only verify the amount of time donated.

Some people might be motivated by 'learning something valuable to themselves'. Learning properly how to 'install a rain catchment field' might yield a 'supervisor signed/dated certification of completion' for various levels of course work/experience obtained by the volunteer. Commercial raw material providers, might be very interesting to the novice volunteer, finding out WHO, WHERE, & WHEN to get quality materials could become a valuable resource to the volunteers for their own future projects. And notwithstanding, if YOUR best resources are in some fashion made available to the volunteer also, it could prove very valuable indeed. If all volunteers were to provide their 'supervisor signed/dated certification of completion', to the listed sponsors , there might be an 'associated discount' on supplies from providers that you have already set up as a discount to those volunteers that participated in the project. In this way the volunteer in the future may be able to take advantage of their new knowledge/experience, but also know where/who to go to get the best materials like the ones used in the project.

Other than physical resources, the volunteer pool itself, is a human resource that could be encouraged to 'network' by the leadership. By simply encouraging 'network among yourselves & these vendors'. It could be after a days volunteering side by side, some of these volunteers develop a working relationship among themselves...management encouragement might prove helpful to your volunteers, if you take the time to teach it.

Encourage a strict volunteer schedule, if the agenda of the day is delayed for whatever reason your volunteers will notice a break from the schedule...the very first minute! This says everything about your operation, make your volunteer's time very valuable & interesting to them.

james beam



 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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I volunteer at the Boston food forest because it feels so good to be making positive history, to be out in beautiful nature, to learn climate- and urban-specific skills (tree planting was something i needed right after I learned it!), and because the people are grade A menschen (good people). At least they are on a Saturday morningat 9 am in the rain. Not fairweather friends but solid, willing workers pitching in and being a team. I frequently didn't know who was in charge the first few times I was there (I sometimes had a schedule conflict), but the work and info flowed seamlessly and things have been getting done. The hugel bed rocked it, hte veggies from it tasted WONDERFUL.

I volunteer a fair amount of my time for a semi-dysfunctional non-profit that has a rather nebulous vision of how to carry out its audaciously oversized goal, "to teach the wisdom of the Dagara medicine and redirect disempowering energies." It's been the worst experience of my life at times, and more frequently the best. And I wouldn't change a thing about the past.

It is nice when people occasionally remember to thank each other; it's nice when they have a minute to do that; it's been frustrating as all hell that the thing doesn't move forward more quickly when it has so much potential (and land. Did I mention we have land? yes, folks, that's right, we have land, and it would be great to permaculture it. Soon. A lot. A lot of land. We have a lot of land. Did I mention we have almost 20 acres of land?). But it's my spiritual home. I made a commitment to it for my lifetime and my children's lifetime and my children's children's lifetime (if I have any children). Many have broken their commitment and left. A few of us still show up. It's home. What can I say? "My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun..." I'd like to volunteer more, I'd like more clarity what Ican actually do to move things forward, and I'd like more of what I volunteer (gathering information, finding spring heads on the land, coming up with a land manual) to be used instead of left unused...but it is as it is, and it has to start somehwere, and it's the most established Dagara outpost village outside of Dagara Land in Africa. So, here we are.

Just another thought on the OP--the problem is the solution. What's the benefit of having things fall apart?
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Purposefulness, mastery, and autonomy--Dan Pink I think it was researched what motivates creativity in work and it is _not_ money. Money demotivates creativity! (you can check this, I read it a while ago, but my memory of it feels clear)

Certainly when I volunteer a bit of my time on this site, I enjoy freedom to pursue these three things--to serve a larger purpose I feel strongly about, to try and make my post just a little bit better than it might have been (compete against myself), and to be free of anyone else's opinions or anyone breathing down my neck as I do so. So, I'm motivated to keep posting. If people told me I was doing it wrong a lot, I might get discouraged, but probably I'd still want to do it because it's the right thing to do, it's purposeful. But yeah, it's awfully nice that everyone on this site has been super-supportive and helpful and appreciative of both my questions and occasional answers to things. I'm really mostly a consumer on here as of yet, but I hope to be more of a contributor over time.

Also, I liked what Al said, and James Beam.

Also, I think men and women are different in this, as are all individuals different, as far as what kinds of acknowledgment really hit the spot and which kinds less so.

Good luck finding the best solutions!
 
Rick Howd
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I've volunteered a bit. 10 years as a police reserve and 10+ years for search and rescue.

If it's a printed document, add a dollar and put it in a frame. Please have all signatures be real and not printed. I have certificates from 2 US presidents and they're just form letters because I fit into a category. (and someone who cares about our group went to the effort to make the request)

Service coins are cool, it's solid and fits well in your pocket.

BBQ, invite the crew over for a meal and have the boss cook.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Mention in the newsletter along with a picture of the participants is just about free. When I led a group of parents in repairing the adventure playground at my daughter's school, this was done. She cut the story and picture out and put it in the photo album. When the playground reopened, an announcement was made over the PA. All of the parents and children who had helped, were mentioned. This was a big deal to my eight year old daughter, since everyone in the school was now aware that her dad was responsible for the repairs and subsequent opening of the playground that had been closed due to vandalism and some rotted wood.

This was her first experience as a volunteer. When she was put in charge of school fundraisers the next year, she always made sure that someone from the school paper did a story about the efforts of the volunteers.
 
Rick Howd
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Location: McMinnville Oregon
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OK, so I have some volunteer experience, (scouts, police, sar; combined about 25 years). This time wasn't well recognized, but it didn't really bother me as I had fun and that was why I was there.

We now have methods of acknowledging volunteers, put their name on your webpage or blog pos, send them a link to the post showing that you appreciate their work, add facebook and twitter posts to the link. Include a volunteer name with a year and you encourage them to volunteer again later.
 
R Thomason
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I agree with those who suggest acknowledgement in newsletters or online venues. The more you can recognize someone's good work, the more good examples you put in front of others to contemplate. It is especially helpful to recognize people when they are among only one or two volunteers who turn out to contribute.

Facebook
Get permission to post a photo to Facebook. One could use the "tag," "like" or "comment" features to amplify the gratitude.

LinkedIn
Endorse someone's LinkedIn profile for volunteering or other relevant activity.

Your group's Web site
Telling the story of a volunteer is a perfect way to describe what your project does, how it benefits the community and who is involved. You don't have to write a big, full-blown article. Just cover the basics.

Twitter
I scrolled through a number of Tweets about volunteering. Happily, the number of Tweets thanking volunteers was not very much different from those calling for volunteers.

Look at the following example of how much information one Tweet was able to provide about a volunteer and the help he has provided the community.
Mayfield schools honor 94-year-old volunteer, Pearl Harbor veteran http://t.co/szB2zwbHOv #OhioEd
 
raven ranson
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Here's a story of what will make me stop volunteering with an organization:
There was an organization I really enjoyed volunteering with.  I did my 10 hours a month and it was very fulfilling.  It was a nature based organization and I felt like the work I did was good for the environment and community. 

After a few years, I gave in and went to the volunteer recognition lunch.  A friend of mine was receiving his 10-year volunteer award.  He spent 4 to 6 hours a day volunteering, every day, for ten years, no vacation time, never took a day off even when he broke his leg.  Getting his 10-year award was a big deal to him. 

The lunch was disappointing.  As usually, it's a buffet lunch and they called each table up separately.  The first table to go was the paid staff and politicians.  The next two tables were the financial contributors.  By that time, over half the food was gone, including the lovely planked, fire roasted salmon we were all promised.  There were twenty-two tables left to eat and not enough food.  What came next was almost 6 hours of award giving - awards to the staff, financial contributors, and volunteers.  It was excessively boring.  There were some lovely prizes given to the hard working staff and the financial contributors.  Not so much the volunteers.  My friend's award for volunteering every day for 10 years of his life, was a walking stick!  A walking stick!  Were they taking the mick? 

Several things happened because of this lunch.  My friend stopped volunteering and the organizers didn't understand why.  I also stopped volunteering with that organization.  I decided I would never again go to a volunteer recognition event.  I am now leery of any volunteer organization that gives out awards on a schedule.  I have decided that I like organizations that give small, every-day privileges rather than once a year awards.  The occasional gift for exceptional actions every few years, without a fancy lunch, is very much appreciated but not expected.  It is not appreciated if it is used as an excuse to advertise the organization - then it feels like they are paying me to advertise for them.  I prefer private gifts for volunteering, not public recognition. 

I especially don't like my name or photo being posted in a public space like the internet as a way of 'recognizing' my contributions.  I want to choose how I interact with the internet.  It feels like I'm being put on display and it's a bit like public shaming if I choose not to support that organization again.  Now, if the organization ASKS me each and every time they want to put my photo online, that's different - I feel like it's my choice and not them taking advantage of me as a free source of advertising


Sorry, that didn't turn out very positive.

What keeps me coming back?
-tiny, unexpected things to show they appreciate me.
-something physical that I can use every day that is high quality.  A handmade pottery much stamped with the logo would be much more appreciated than a plastic travel mug with a printed advert.  The first is a reward for me, the second is me rewarding the organization by advertising for them in public.
-clothing, not so much.
-feeling like what I am doing makes the world a better place.
-access to volunteer-only privileges (for example: if it's a physical space, having nice and well-kept volunteer toilets so we don't have to stand in line with the general public is a huge bonus!).
 
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