When volunteers join your organisation it makes the utmost sense to make every effort to retain them. It can be costly to recruit and train replacement volunteers, unless your organisation has the appropriate strategies in place to deal with this – sometimes unavoidable – scenario. Maintaining access to skilled volunteers may be a necessary requirement for an organisation to ensure their ongoing delivery of high quality service.
One important way of encouraging your volunteers to remain with your organisation is to give them adequate recognition. Recognition to be effective should be consistent and ongoing. Volunteers can quickly loose motivation if they feel that their work is not valued.
The way you recognise volunteer efforts is importance. This is because one volunteer may regard one type of recognition as valuable whilst another volunteer may feel it has little worth. If you are aware of the volunteer's motivation in working for the organisation then this will provide a good indication for the type of recognition that the volunteer is seeking.
In many cases, volunteers that are motivated by helping the community will see their work as reward and will only require support from their volunteer organisation. The support of paid staff and the Volunteer Manager can be shown in many ways. The enthusiasm of paid staff to the aims of the volunteer program is very important because it will naturally engender within the organisation the recognition that volunteers are important.
Some ways that volunteer organisations may give recognition to their volunteers are:
National Volunteer Week is celebrated in May, from the Monday immediately after Mother's Day to the following Sunday. Future dates are:
International Volunteer Manager's Day is celebrated globally on November 5. The annual event recognises the efforts of dedicated volunteer managers who are responsible for the coordination, support, training, administration, leadership and recruitment of the world's volunteers. www.volunteermanagersday.org
A number awards are given each year to volunteers who've made an outstanding contribution to the community.
Below is a list of a few of the awards you can nominate someone for or be nominated for. Alternatively you can browse Volunteering Australia's Volunteering Awards Calendar.
NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards
The NSW Volunteer of the Year Award is an annual awards program launched in 2007 by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise the outstanding efforts of the 2.4 million volunteers in NSW, and to promote the importance of volunteering to the community and to companies. Prior to 2007 there was no state-wide recognition program for volunteers. The Centre for Volunteering is working with other state peak bodies to take these Awards nationally in the future.
Now in its fourth year, the 2010 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award received almost 400 nominations. Regional Winners will be announced in November 2010 and State Winners will be announced at Parliament House, Sydney on 3 December 2010.
Australian Safer Communities Awards
These awards are conducted by Emergency Management Australia and seek to nominate community groups and individuals who make our communities safer places in which to live. The very great majority of candidates for these awards are volunteers.
National Honours Award Scheme
Twice a year national awards are given out by the Governor-General in his capacity as Head of State. These awards are issued from Canberra to publicly recognize, reward and celebrate achievement and service. They are a way the community - through the Government - can acknowledge and express gratitude for the inspiring work many volunteers and their organisations perform. Know of an Australian who has rendered outstanding achievements to the community through their voluntary activity? Why not nominate them for an Australian Honours Award?
NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards
In NSW there is a long and illustrious history of volunteering in heritage conservation work and without volunteers, many of the hundreds of community heritage projects run each year in NSW would not be possible. The awards recognise the outstanding performance of individuals and community groups, who have significantly improved the profile of heritage management in their local communities, successfully motivated and managed heritage projects and promoted the value of heritage.
Sources include Volunteering Australia and The Centre for Volunteering.