The final section of the Volunteer Management Toolkit looks at the importance of recognising volunteers’ contributions and make them feel valued. In addition to saying ‘thank you’ which costs nothing and is very important, there are suggestions about giving volunteers recognition certificates and nominating them for awards. It’s essential to know your volunteers though, as some volunteers love recognition and would relish being invited to an awards ceremony, whereas others prefer to operate under the radar and get embarrassed if they are put in the spotlight.
Retaining volunteers is a skill and hopefully if volunteers feel valued and recognised, this will help with volunteer retention, alongside a robust support structure.
This section also covers giving volunteers a voice and recognising the value of their contribution to your organisation’s planning and evaluation. As they are often more connected to the people you help than perhaps paid staff, or the management, they have a unique insight into how services can be improved and their feedback, and ideas should be encouraged.
Finally there are occasions when it’s time to say goodbye as volunteers move on, so you should have procedures in place to cover things like references and always undertake an exit interview where possible.
There are useful information sheets on retaining volunteers and exits/endings.