The other day I received an email from Animal Rescue, who I volunteer with every Thursday, telling me that one of the cats that had been up for adoption since February had finally found her forever home. The email thanked the volunteers for helping her to come out of her shell and become an outgoing and loving cat and for continuing to give her the attention she deserved until some lucky family came along and took her home. It was really nice to hear straight from the Adoption Coordinator that this wonderful kitty had found a home and to be thanked for my part in getting her there.
This email got me thinking again about volunteer recognition and the different ways you can go about it. Whether your organization does one big event a year to thank your volunteers or does several small things throughout the year, I think there’s a lesson to be learned from this example. As a volunteer, you don’t always get to see the fruits of your labor and you’re not always in touch with what other volunteers at your organization are up to. I think sending out an email any time something good happens as a result of the work of volunteers (whether big or small) is a great way to keep everyone in the loop and keep everyone invested in the work they are doing. Of course, if you are a big organization with a lot going on, this might not be feasible. Another great idea could be to send out a monthly newsletter that focuses solely on the work of the volunteers. One of this year’s VMCs took on the task of compiling just such a newsletter and said that it really helped everyone in her organization (and all of their volunteers) better understand how the work of each individual unit within the organization fit together. Everyone at the organization now has a much better understanding of how volunteers fit in to their mission and the types of things volunteers can help them do. Again, this might not be feasible if you don’t have a dedicated volunteer coordinator on your staff or if you don’t have a program to create newsletters (if that’s the case, try MailChimp, the basic version is free). If you already send out a monthly newsletter to your supporters, try including a volunteer spotlight, and make sure your volunteers are subscribed to your newsletter so they can see just how much they are appreciated.
These are just a few ideas for keeping your volunteers in the loop and making sure they know they are appreciated. How do you do it at your organization? Do you have any recommendations for free newsletter software? Let us know!