Is your volunteer recognition working?

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 1:40AM

Hardy Smith, Nonprofit Consultant and Speaker

Recognition. It’s Volunteer 101, as everyone who leads volunteers knows.

Most organizations have some type of appreciation activity to show thanks to their valuable volunteers. However, it is possible your efforts to show gratitude might not be as effective as you would like.

Through my affiliation with Contagious Companies as a presenter of their Contagious Leadership seminar, I have developed a greater understanding of how different personalities can react to well intended recognition.

Depending on the individual, your attempt to motivate could have the opposite of the desired result.

If someone is a shy type, a public display of appreciation could be a source of embarrassment. On the other hand, a lack of celebratory attention might be a huge disappointment for an outgoing personality.

In both situations, the volunteer doesn’t get the benefit of the all-important — and appropriate — recognition. And if a volunteer doesn’t feel appreciated, he or she often heads for the door.

Avoid making a recognition mistake that could create a volunteer turnoff rather than provide inspiration that leads to continued service.

Nonprofit leaders and volunteer coordinators: take the time to know your volunteers and their personalities. Find out what type of recognition is not only the most effective but is preferred.

Before blindly handing out recognition or tokens of appreciation, first determine if your attempt to praise and motivate will have the desired positive result.


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