Volunteer Centre: Recognize volunteers in ways that matter

It took me a while to realize that people like to be thanked in different ways.

The lights went on for me when I attended the Overview of Volunteer Management (OVM) course offered by KCR many years ago. I was coordinating the youth restorative justice program for the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs at the time.

The course taught us to match volunteer recognition with basic motivation. There are achievers, people people, and those who like to influence.

Achievers are the ones who like to get ’er done. They view success as excellence or improved performance and like to work on concrete projects with a definite end and are open to moving into more challenging tasks.

Ideas for making achievers feel valued include certificates or pins, letters of recommendation, running efficient meetings, providing more training and giving feedback about the steps reached or people served.

Affiliation volunteers like to be with people.

Recognition involves being noticed, receiving personalized thank yous and attending an appreciation pot luck. Remember to include name badges, use team projects, talk in terms of ‘we’ and ‘us’, and post the photos taken.

Influencers plan and think outside the box to introduce change. Their goal is to impact others.

Make their recognition public, provide opportunities to meet others with influence, include them in the action and let them innovate. Think carefully about the names of projects and their roles in decision-making. Have their picture taken with the executive director or other VIP. Nominate them for a ‘Something of the Year’ award.

Learn more about working with volunteers by attending our next Overview of Volunteer Management course in April. This four-day course costs $199 and includes structure to set up or to improve an existing volunteer program.

Register online at under Find Workshops, or call me at 250-763-8008 ext 25.

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