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Mariner Management & Marketing LLC

5 Gifts on Your Volunteers' Holiday Wishlist

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - 2:49pm

On a recent webinar, I was asked again for ideas on how reward and recognize volunteers. It seems many people are stuck on what gifts they can give. Well, here are five that dare I say are in fact on your volunteer’s wish list …

  1. Clear expectations – Tell me what done looks like, tell me the parameters I need to work within, and tell me what you expect to see in my performance. Avoid the “bait and switch” where I find added responsibilities (“you mean we didn’t mention you had to also the raise funds for the project?”) or fewer resources (“we didn’t tell you that we didn’t have a conference line for your team calls?”) or a different job (“no its not ideas for member services, its making calls to prospects and lapsed members”).
  2. Accessible Orientation and Training – There are two parts to this gift. One is the full package that includes orientation to the project and the organization, as well as training on how to get the job done. The second part is making it a gift to enjoy – that is, the training and orientation should be readily accessible to me. Give me options like short videos or webinars which I can watch live or download later, easy-to-follow directions in tip sheets, guides and checklists, and access to help.
  3. Support – Moving beyond #2, this gift is about appropriate supervising, resourcing the job (tools, information, budgets), backing me up, keeping morale high, and being there for me. In practice, this includes offering access to staff for conversation, providing a portal with frequently needed paperwork, forms and links. It could even include making funds available for training or to send me to outside for training seminars, conferences, and other events. Check out the Checklist for an Energetic Volunteer Workforce and the Community Toolbox’s chapter on supporting volunteers for more ideas.
  4. Sincere appreciations – We often focus on rewards and recognition, but its appreciation that is most cherished. Some favorites that volunteers have shared include: taking time to get to know them; marking milestones from birthdays to anniversaries to work promotions to life/career changes; a quick note (by email or mail) of thanks; a shout out on social media; and a recommendation on LinkedIn.
  5. A surprise – Who doesn’t like a pleasant surprise? It says you thought of me, you care about me. Dazzle your volunteers with random acts of kindness: a special invitation to an exclusive gathering at annual conference; first options on sought-after things like registration for hot events, limited product offers, best seats in the house, or prime volunteer position; a copy of the latest book in your association’s bookstore; pick up the tab at Starbucks; or sending a link to redeem a gift.

Volunteers, what’s else is on your wish list? Volunteer managers, what other ideas can you add?

Looking for gift ideas for membership pros? Read Joe Rominiecki’s 5 Gifts on Every Membership Pro’s Holiday Wishlist (my inspiration for this post).

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