Staff for Excellence in Volunteer Supervision
Often when the topic of recognition comes up, we automatically think of volunteer appreciation. I am all for that and salute all forms of volunteer recognition. Recognition ranges from placing volunteers in the RIGHT job (the highest form of recognition) to a variety of presentations acknowledging and capturing their contribution(s) to the organization.
Too often, however, we miss an opportunity to also thank staff who perform well in supervising their volunteers.
I frequently suggest that formal recognition events should combine a joint recognition of staff and the volunteers who functioned as partners to accomplish a task for the organization. Staff of nonprofit organizations frequently give more than 100% to the organization. When they must then recognize the services of volunteers and receive no appreciation for their support of that work, it can actually arouse some negative feelings.
If you want your staff to be supportive of the volunteer program, involve them in the planning and include them in the appreciation for the contributions made by volunteers. It is one way to diminish any staff resistance to engaging volunteers. The joint recognition shows that the organization is aware of the skills and time it takes staff to creatively and effectively partner with volunteers.
One organization in Florida has a particularly clever way of acknowledging staff. They have awards for extraordinary volunteer service and also have nomination forms to be used by volunteers to honor a special staff person who:
The Awards are called, "Celebrate Excellence".
I would love to hear about other creative ways that staff and volunteers are recognized as a TEAM that supports the organization's mission.
Evaluating and Improving the Effectiveness of your Orientation and Training
This is a tip I learned from hearing my daughter talk about her volunteer experience with Make-A-Wish Foundation. The San Francisco Bay Area's chapter is well organized and does an exceptional job at working with volunteers.
My daughter took their extensive training course to be able to become a Wish Granter. She learned a great deal about the dynamics of entering a family with a seriously ill child and had to learn what to expect when working with children with serious diseases.
In this organization, after volunteers return home from working with a family, the organization asks (on-line) a very significant question: "Is there anything that you experienced when volunteering today that WE did not adequately prepared you for?" Why is this such a powerful question?
The purposes were to: