Recently I had an exciting opportunity to volunteer at the Provincetown International Film Festival: what a great way to support this fantastic event. Their volunteer training and recognition was impressive. And, I loved my volunteer jobs: counting and ripping tickets, greeting film aficionados and my favorite – sweeping up popcorn off the theatre floor – really. Why? It’s simple–there was a beginning, middle and end!
In my case, I was thrilled to help out with simple duties where I did not have to organize, fundraise or be in charge of an event – things I do all the time. When I lived in Anchorage, Alaska, I volunteered for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race where I shoveled show back into the Fourth Avenue so mushers had plenty of white stuff on the street during the ceremonial start–it’s true.
So here’s my first big tip for working with volunteers. Engage each volunteer personally. Ask each person what they would like to do before every event. Don’t randomly assign tasks or assume they would like to do the same volunteer job each time. Remember, sometimes they would like to perform or learn a new volunteer task that is completely different than their regular life.
Second giant tip: Ask your leaders to engage your volunteers. During the film festival, I was so impressed that Board members, film makers and producers made a point to thank me personally for lending a hand–even when I had a broom in my hand! From the volunteer side, it meant the world to me. What a great reminder for me about the power of personal recognition and thanks for our auction volunteers too!
So keep up the enthusiasm throughout the many months of auction planning. Give lots of recognition, thanks and especially nutritious healthy food!
Here are a checklist of meaningful volunteer recognition ideas.
✓Designate a great volunteer coordinator
✓Deliver excellent volunteer training with written notes.
✓Provide name tags and t-shirts
✓Create opportunities for volunteer to get to know each other
✓Ask the board and staff to talk personally with volunteers
✓Write personal hand-written thank you notes.
✓Call each volunteer personally and ask for their insights and ideas
✓Invite them to participate in other ways your organization
✓Serve nourishing food during meetings, set up and auction night
✓Solicit sponsors to provide all the volunteer meals.
✓List each volunteer in the auction catalog.
✓Hold a special thank you reception with great food
✓Include special awards, prize drawings and have fun.
Thank your volunteers early and often. The spirit of recognition and appreciation creates a dynamic climate for future participations and giving.
And what about you? I’m sure you have some great volunteer thank you ideas. Will you share them as a comment below?