Three Ideas for Effectively Thanking Members and Volunteers
It's that time of year again – time to eat some turkey and pumpkin pie while watching the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions play in their annual Thanksgiving Day games. But Thanksgiving is also a time where we should do as the holiday’s name instructs – give thanks – to our friends and family, to people who have helped us, and for those of us in the association community, to our volunteers and members.
To be the most effective and genuine, giving thanks to volunteers really should be an ongoing process, not a once a year project. At the same time, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to purposefully set aside time to do so.
So how can we best do it? Here are three ideas for effectively giving thanks to members and volunteers:
- Make it personal - Don't just give them a certificate. Make it something they're really going to enjoy. If you don't know what your volunteers are going to enjoy, you're not working closely enough with them (or you haven't documented enough)...
- Make it regular - Don't wait until the end of their service to thank them or give them something to show them how much you appreciate them. Develop a system that ensures that you are doing so on a regular basis. Send regular notes. Send regular updates about something you know they are passionate about within the organization. Decide to be intentional.
- Don’t be stingy - I use Thanksgiving as the perfect time to send a regular annual thank you to everyone who has made an impact on my work throughout the year. I use a template but personalize each person's note for something specific they've done to help make my job easier or how they've made an impact on the organization. Imagine the impact that could be made if everyone on your staff did something like this.
As we think about thanking and recognizing our members and volunteers, we need to realize it takes time and dedication. It needs to become an integral part of our culture. We MUST devote time and energy to keeping track of those who need/deserve praise and thanks, and our organizations (and leaders) must embrace that. If they don’t, the positive things and continued engagement that comes from really energized volunteers - those who feel the love and want to give it back – will not be realized. You see, when you recognize volunteers for their work and reward them for effectively serving in their role, they are more likely to continue working hard on behalf of the organization.