Volunteers add value to organizations and should be seen as a significant asset.
You might not have heard that it’s Volunteer Week (April 15th-21st, 2018). It’s one of our favourite times of year here at TeamFund. Such a great opportunity to say thanks to the thousands of amazing people we work with everyday. In fact, volunteers are the reason we even exist. We started out as volunteers, just like you. It was after years of struggling through difficult fundraising efforts that we realized the process was broken. At first the goal was to make it easier for ourselves. As the idea grew, we knew everyone deserved a simplified process. TeamFund started with the mission to work with fellow volunteers to make fundraising less of a headache.
Just like you, we have donated hundreds of hours working on behalf of a non-profit group. It can often be a thankless job. Even though the work is incredibly important, it can be easy for groups to overlook the value that their volunteers bring. Think about it, youth sports need coaches, managers, chaperones, bench parents, and of course our favourite group, the fundraisers. Schools have parents that read with students, put artwork, work a casino, or join school council. Volunteers often fill in gaps in service and in the case of youth sports, make it even possible to exist at all. Teams wouldn’t exist without people that give up their personal time, during Volunteer Week, and every other day all year.
It’s important for organizations to let their people know they are valued. When you do paid work, of course you get money in exchange for what you do. The occasional “great job” or incentive helps too. However, too many groups do a poor job of recognizing their unpaid workers. There is a good feeling in doing such important work. However, that’s not enough. During Volunteer Week, take a few minutes to recognize the people who often do the invisible work. Because of them, many organizations go from good to great. It gives kids opportunities to play sports at all levels. Schools can also offer programs, learning experiences, and opportunities that students wouldn’t have otherwise.
It’s important to remember that a little bit of recognition can make people feel part of your team. This is especially vital when your people work remotely. It’s easy to say “Hey, thanks for pitching in” when you see people in the halls. However, when people work independently, like in youth sports, they rarely see program organizers, so recognition is especially challenging. You don’t need to throw a gala or year end party for them. However, you should try doing something small every few months. Just let them know you see their hard work and that you appreciate it. It really doesn’t need to be huge. People just want to know that their work is valuable to the organization and that they are appreciated. Could your organization be as successful without them? If not, tell them that. Try to make the message personal to each individual if you can. One genuine comment is worth more than a bunch of form letters.
For larger groups like the health region or sports clubs, they may have hundreds or even thousands of volunteers. To complicate matters, sometimes even the coordinators for the volunteers are people donating their time. In this case, people can thank each other. As long as someone notices and appreciates your efforts, that can be enough to stay motivated and feel good.
This Volunteer Week we want to say thank you to all the people out there who give so much of themselves. So if you’re one of the estimated 13 million Canadians who volunteers each year let us be the first to say a huge thank you!! We started as volunteers and it’s our passion to work with you all. Our staff loves helping you as you work so tirelessly to make our communities better. We couldn’t ask for a better job in life. You are amazing and it’s been a pleasure meeting so many of you over the last few years. You inspire us every day to do better because of your enthusiasm. So if nobody has said thank you for what you do, let us take time this Volunteer Week to tell you that you are amazing!!