Volunteer Power News Number 31
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter
© 2005 Advantage Point Systems Publishing
A warm welcome to all volunteer managersthose of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.
In this Issue:
1. Recognition: What are specific examples that successful organizations are
using to reward and recognize their volunteers?
Rewards and Recognition
I just spent an enlightening hour reading old articles looking for methods of recognizing and appreciating volunteers, but it was never a major subject before, which really surprises me. I know you say "positive feedback" is the most important thing you can do to keep volunteers happy and healthy, but you don't describe different ways different organizations have formalized their volunteer appreciation."
I guess what I am asking is for more details about how other organizations have recognized their volunteers. . .
Any suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated. . . .Thank you for your time and attention.
Thanks so much for your questions and for prodding me to do some more work on the topic of specific rewards and recognition. I jumped right on it and have collected information from several volunteer organizations and what they are doing. I hope this helps.
Last week I interviewed Charlie Wick, Volunteer Coordinator for the American Red Cross-Del Norte County, California. Charlie had just spent three weeks in New Orleans coordinating relief effort. She said they do the following:
I also interviewed Wendy Reiss, A member of the board of supervisors of Trinity County, California. Trinity County is a small, rural county in Northern California, and they depend on a lot of volunteers for their fire departments, library, count fair, etc. She told me about an "Olympic type medal" that they give out to people who have volunteered to work in the fair for more than five years. Joe, a 75 year old gentleman who has been volunteering for 15 years, wears his medal around his neck the whole time he is volunteering. When I asked what Joe does as a volunteer, Wendy said, "Anything we ask. He just wants to help. But most of all he loves behind the scene work like setting up chairs, cleaning, etc."
Mark, a volunteer fireman in Weaverville, California (Trinity County), overheard me interviewing Wendy and shared his story with me. Mark is a mechanic for the county and volunteers his time keeping the fire equipment in top shape. He takes the equipment home to his shop and repairs the trucks. A month ago he was totally surprised when he got a plaque recognizing his volunteer work at the annual volunteer recognition dinner for volunteer fireman. The thing that surprised Mark the most was that everyone in a small community kept this from him. He was totally shocked when he was called up in front of everyone and the Fire chief read a proclamation outlining all of the work that Mark had done.
Mark said that each year the fire department sponsors a "fireman's ball," and it is one of the largest dances of the whole community. At the dance, which draws most of the people in town, volunteers are recognized with awards and recognition pins.
Several years ago I interviewed Mary Lynn Perry when she was the director of volunteers for Shriners Hospital in Sacramento, Ca. The following is a section from my interview:
Annette Shears, Director of Volunteers, Catalina Island Conservancy, Avalon has developed a special column in the organizations' quarterly newsletter. The column, titled, "Conservancy Volunteers Have," lists a few of the man projects volunteers have been involved with, along with some noteworthy statistics (source: Volunteer Management Report). One of the articles read;
Conservancy Volunteers Have:
Steven Drew, curator at the California State Railroad Museum, said that they use the following rewards for volunteer service:
The last idea is from the Volunteer Management Report (December 2001).
I hope this helps.
Note: I got a thank you
note back from Jeri and she noted that their volunteers are not in one location
to gather around the water cooler. Their volunteers are connected through e-mail
and the phone. She encouraged me to give her some ideas on long-distance rewards
and recognition. I will follow up on her suggestion in our next newsletter on
the topic: Managing
the Virtual Volunteer. This
topic actually blends greatly with Gen Y - the digital natives.
How Do We Get the Digital Natives to Volunteer?
Gen Y - the 68 million people born between 1980 and 1994 who constantly question the standards and expectations imposed by society.
In the last
newsletter I covered three characteristics of Gen Y:
Four more characteristics
of the Gen Y volunteer are the following:
They are "street smart" digital natives
Baby boomers are digital immigrants. Gen Yers are digital natives. Digitals grew up using technology. Marc Prensky, a pioneer of digital game based learning and CEO and founder of games2train.com coined the term, "Twitch Speed". He says that this generation grew up on video games (twitch speed), MTV (more than 100 images per minute) and the ultra-fast speed of action films. The under-30 generation has had far more experience of processing information quickly than its predecessors. Therefore the digital natives are defined by the following:
Eric Chester says that they
have been exposed to far more, at an earlier age, than previous generations.
These young people have seen the good, the bad and ugly. Sometimes labeled as
'street smart," there is very little they have not seen, through the media
or virtually. They are resilient, slow to be shocked, quick to react, and willing
to take risks. Life has been an adventure of constant change, and they feel
well equipped to tackle any situation.
They crave respect
If you have established
a relationship of honesty and trust, they will stick with you through anything.
Many adults label this generation as disrespectful and outspoken. After all,
if you grew up never trusting anyone over thirty, you certainly don't "respect
your elders." They address their elders as equals, using first names rather
than Mr. or Mrs. While they like older people (especially the Veteran generation)
and respect their life experiences, they are not awed or overly impressed by
anyone of anything. Though they often appear disrespectful, they crave respect.
They believe that power equals respect. While they are slow to give respect,
they expect respect automatically. "Gen Ys respect authenticity, accomplishment,
and competence" (Chester, 2002, p. 46).
The children of "never
trust anyone over thirty" parents, this generation has lived in a time
when the media and tell-all books debunked all past heroes. As Chester points
out, they watched the confessions of Princess Diana, saw sports figures discredited,
and heard a president lie. They have few illusions about what the world is really
like and thus are skeptical and wary. They have seen too much to believe everything
at face value. Because their skepticism has led them to question much of what
they see and hear, they value honesty and truth. They dislike embellishments,
half truths and over inflated promises.
They want to be heard.
"Children should be
seen and not heard" has not been the axiom of this generation. They have
been included in family decision from their earliest days. They have been taught
to speak up, and their opinions have been considered and valued. They are very
independent thinkers and feel very comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions
with anyone. I was cornered by a young man (28 years old) last week during a
break in a management workshop. He was so frustrated because he told me that
management (most of them in their 50's) often criticize him for being blunt,
when he believed he was just being honest and open and giving immediate feedback.
What management saw as "attitude" was "authenticity" to
him. They felt that he had not been in the organization long enough to criticize
their way. He felt that they needed fresh, young eyes.
They are not judgmental.
Diversity is a value for
this generation, and thus they display an incredible tolerance and a slowness
to judge other people. Though adults sometimes challenge this saying they are
can be rude and outspoken, they have a great spirit of openness. True products
of the civil rights movement, these young people do not display the same prejudices
that have divided earlier generation. They are great team members, ignoring
gender and racial biases to work with anyone to accomplish common goals.
They are looking for
Although this is true of
most volunteers, across generational lines, Gen Ys are highly motivated by causes.
Since they are very busy with lots of youthful activities, they are looking
for ways to volunteer with organizations in order to make their mark and find
their causes. When the match is right, they are highly committed and fiercely
your organization. Is it Gen Y friendly?
So what does this mean?
Bottom line-they don't want to be managed. They want to be lead. Management:
"Please do this job and have it done by Friday." Leadership: "What
can you do to help us accomplish our mission?"
Next months' newsletter:
Thomas W. McKee
Tom McKee is a leading
volunteer management speaker, trainer and consultant. You can reach Tom
at (916) 987-0359 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles and free resources are available at www.volunteerpower.com.
For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles section on our website.
Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management. Thank you for reading this month's issue of Volunteer Power News!
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