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Awards and Recognition for your Volunteers
Top Tip: "Do you value your volunteers? Thanking them doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it will make them feel appreciated and valued in your organisation."
Help Card By: PlanBig Team
Awarding and recognising volunteers is something that can be easily overlooked. We can sometimes be too busy to realise that a simple smile and thanks can do wonders to the morale and self worth of our volunteers.
Celebrating things such as birthdays, awarding length of service, and acknowledging project milestones can seem a small thing, but to the volunteer it can mean a lot. Just the act of sending a card to wish them a happy birthday can make someone’s day and let them know you appreciate them.
Bake a cake and bring it in for morning tea, smile and say hi when they come in to work, or just sit down and have cuppa and a chat with them.
It’s the little things that count.
Check out some other ways in which you can recognise your volunteers:
Volunteers don't always want a big fuss made; they just want to know that you appreciate them.
- Celebrating birthdays by sending a card in the mail or presenting them with a cake
- Celebrating length of service or milestones in the project e.g. with a volunteer recognition certificate
- List volunteers in external and internal communications for example, newsletters, annual reports, website and newspapers
- Thank volunteers in speeches
- Invite volunteers to your organisation's events and use the opportunity to present them with a certificate
- Hold a special volunteer recognition event during National Volunteer Week
- Send appreciation letters
Daily opportunities to say thank you
Recognising the contribution of your volunteers should be part of the volunteer program and not something extraordinary.
- Make fun a part of the volunteer's work environment, such as provide nice magazines, quality tea bags and home made cookies for volunteers to share
- Learn about how different things motivate different volunteers and build these motivators into volunteer roles and programs to show you sincerely appreciate their efforts
- Offer to write a personal reference – this is especially appreciated by young people looking to further their careers
- Include a list of volunteers and their birthdays on photo and bulletin boards
- Provide volunteer name badges
- Organise group photos
National and State volunteer awards
There are several State and National awards that volunteers and community groups can be nominated for:
- Australia Safer Communities Award
- Australian Bravery Decorations
- Order of Australia
- Australian of the Year
Often local governments hold volunteer award ceremonies on Australia Day. It’s an excellent opportunity for you to reward and recognise your volunteers. Find out more by visiting your local council website.
National Volunteer Week is held in May each year. You could tap into this with your own special event.
Avoid insincere thank you's
Volunteers can quickly lose motivation if they feel they are not appreciated or their ideas valued. Putting volunteers ideas into practice shows your respect for them. If volunteers can't attend an event dont send them a thank you certificate but arrange for them to attend another event or meet for lunch or coffee instead. This shows you have time for them and appreciate their worth.
The Department of Planning and Community Development Volunteering Portal is full of great information in keeping your volunteers happy: