At the end of the project, take time to celebrate and recognize the volunteers. A time of celebration and recognition will help bring a sense of closure to the project, as well as letting volunteers know that their efforts are appreciated. Your clebration and recognition can be the same day as the project (at the project site or off-site at a local resturant) or later in a different location. Showing appreciation for your volunteers is a great way to get them to come back!
The simplest acknowledgment and appreciation practices are often the most effective. When showing volunteers that you care, make sure to:
- Deliver recognition in a personal and honest manner.
- Tailor your recognition and reward to the unique needs of the people involved. Have a variety of recognition and reward options available. This enables an organization to acknowledge accomplishments in ways appropriate to the individual and the situation.
- Celebrate even the smallest contributions throughout the project. Every little bit counts!
- Reward volunteers close to the time that the volunteering occurs. Time delays weaken the impact of the recognition program.
- Have a clear message. Be sure that volunteers understand why they receive awards and the criteria used to determine awards. Create a clear, well-communicated connection between accomplishments and the recognition received.
The most important way to recognize volunteers is to treat them with respect and give them support and praise throughout the project. You may want to combine your reflection and celebration activities. Reflection done in conjunction with celebration leads to more effective volunteerism; you are giving volunteers the opportunity to think and discuss their experiences and the relationship of service to the larger social and personal concerns.