How Do You Recognize Your Volunteers?

shutterstock_281411504In April we celebrate National Volunteer Week. This is the perfect time of year to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them and the hard work that they do. Our jobs as Activity Directors would be much more difficult without our volunteer help. Volunteers are vital to senior living communities and provide many benefits. The volunteers I have had the pleasure of working with escort residents to special events (which is awesome help!), give hand massages or manicures, read special letters to residents, offer daily visits of great company and conversation, perform administrative tasks, and honestly, whatever the organization desires at that moment. Volunteerism truly is a gift.

Here are some of our favorite ways to show recognition and thanks to volunteers:

  • A simple thank you card that is specific to your volunteer and what they do (best of all- have the resident and direct staff share a story of how the volunteer has impacted their life in a positive way).
  • Offer continued thanks and appreciation throughout the year (not just during Volunteer Week)
  • Provide special “perks” for the volunteer- free lunch, coffee, snack.
  • Know your volunteer on a personal level and find out what gives them the motivation to volunteer. Encourage and support those motivations and continue to place them in positions where they feel supported and satisfied. By doing this they feel valued and recognized.
  • By knowing your volunteers motivations you will also know what means of recognition would be important to them. For some it’s a personal thank you and for others it’s a plaque in front of an audience.
  • Highlight a volunteer on your company’s website, marketing material or an employee newsletter.
  • In lieu of little trinkets, we think it’s important to show appreciation by valuing the volunteer’s time and commitment. Be on time for them. Make them feel important. Don’t overlook their ideas and contributions. Value their time as if it were a paid position. Think of all the personal touches that volunteers give to our residents that we don’t have time to give. That’s a blessing.
  • Of course, we suggest hosting an annual recognition event such as a luncheon, dinner or party. Volunteers are a big deal, so it’s important to make a big deal of their recognition. By having a big event for all volunteers to attend, it’s a way for them to meet each other and come together having one shared vision.

Please join us in sharing ways that you recognize your volunteers! What are your go-to recognition tips?