The benefits of public acknowledging volunteers

Thanking those who help

Public acknowledgement of volunteers is important – and in more ways than one.

As we all know, volunteers play a crucial role in our communities. They give up their time and energy to help others, whether it’s through stocking food at a food bank, mentoring a child, or cleaning up a local park.

However, few people outside the organization or their immediate circles are aware of their hard work and dedication. There are a few of reasons why that needs to change.

Public acknowledgement can up your appreciation game.

Obviously, recognizing volunteers is a way to show them we see and value their efforts and contributions. By publicly acknowledging volunteers, though, we take that appreciation to another level, helping to increase volunteer retention. This can help to ensure that organizations have a consistent group of volunteers to rely on.

For example, in my city of Kamloops, B.C., there is an annual volunteer recognition ceremony, where anyone who volunteers can come, share some food, enjoy music and be given awards for their contributions. It’s a lot of fun, even if you do have to listen to speeches from politicians.

It increases community awareness. The Kamloops volunteer event and others like it not only recognize the efforts of volunteers but also brings attention to the causes those volunteers are working for.

They can be a great way to highlight the important work that organizations do in the community. That can help the cause and bring in more donations.

Public acknowledgement can also improve recruitment. Seeing volunteers acknowledged can encourage other people to volunteer. When people see others being recognized for their volunteer work, it can inspire them to get involved themselves. I

t’s a way to showcase the impact that volunteers have. Most people really want to make a difference, and seeing others are doing it and it’s not out of reach can be just the catalyst others need.

It strengthens community ties. Volunteers are the backbone of community organizations and events. By publicly recognizing their efforts, we are not only thanking them for their work but also acknowledging the important role they play in our communities.

That can help to build stronger connections between volunteers, community members, and organizations. If a community organization holds a volunteer appreciation event, it can be an opportunity for volunteers to connect with each other and with other members of the community.

By sharing stories and experiences, they can form bonds and create a sense of community and belonging that can help to strengthen the fabric of our entire society.

Events aren’t the only way to thank volunteers publicly. I’ve referred mostly to large events, but those aren’t your only option. Public acknowledgement can take many forms, such as a certificate of appreciation they can display or a spotlight on their efforts during an AGM.

You can also do a shout out on social media about the impact they make, or have a story about them in your newsletter or on your website.

A cavate, though. Public acknowledgement of volunteers must be done in a way that is respectful and appropriate. Ask volunteers for their consent before recognizing them publicly and make every effort to respect their privacy.

Also, public acknowledgement should not be used as a way to pressure people into volunteering or as a replacement for other forms of appreciation.

Public acknowledgement of volunteers is an important tool in your appreciation toolbox. It’s a way to show volunteers their work is valued and appreciated and can inspire others to get involved in their communities.

By publicly recognizing the contributions of volunteers, we can help to build stronger, more connected communities.

So, the next time you see a volunteer working hard to make a difference, think of a way you can thank them publicly.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Karen Knight has provided volunteer recruitment, engagement and training for not-for-profit organizations for more than 25 years.

Her professional life has spanned many industries, working in both the private and public sectors in various leadership positions.

Through her passion for making a difference in the world, she has gained decades of experience in not-for-profits as a leader and a board member.

Karen served in Toastmasters International for more than 25 years, in various roles up to district director, where she was responsible for one of the largest Toastmasters districts in the world.

She oversaw a budget of $250,000 and 300 individual clubs with more than 5,000 members. She had 20 leaders reporting directly to her and another 80 reporting to them—all volunteers.

Karen currently serves as vice-president of the board of directors for the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association.

After many years working and volunteering with not-for-profits, she found many leaders in the sector have difficulty with aspects of volunteer programs, whether in recruiting the right people, assigning those people to roles that both support the organization’s mission and in keeping volunteers enthusiastic.

Using hands-on experience, combined with extensive study and research, she helps solve challenges such as volunteer recruitment, engagement and training for not-for-profit organizations.

Karen Knight can be contacted at [email protected], or through her website at https://karenknight.ca/.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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