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How to value volunteers

Beyond giving organizations access to a diversity of skills, expertise and extra hands, volunteers bring additional commitment, enthusiasm and dedication to what they do.

12 Jan 2017

Volunteers are diverse in what they expect to receive in return for their contributions. While some appreciate formal recognition such as receiving a certificate or being featured in a newsletter, this kind of recognition is not important to all. There are three principles that organizations need to place at the basis of all volunteer engagement in order to nurture and sustain the commitment of all volunteers:

a. Open communication: informing all candidates about the outcome of their applications, providing all information and guidance volunteers need to complete their task, sending assignment updates to keep volunteers in the loop as the assignment progresses, as well as providing feedback on what went well and what could be improved;

b. Respect: being responsive to volunteers’ emails and questions, open to new perspectives and aware of cultural differences, and expressing disagreement in a courteous manner;

c. Appreciation: thanking the volunteers for their time, contributions and the difference they make to the organization’s work.

In addition to these basic principles, we encourage organizations to take these easy additional steps to show how much they value their volunteers:

d. Giving credit to the volunteers: wherever possible, organizations can add a short sentence to brochures, newsletters, websites, documents and other products to which volunteers contributed, e.g. “We thank [name of the volunteer], mobilized through UNV’s Online Volunteering service for [task].”

e. Issuing certificates of appreciation: our website provides a quick and user-friendly tool to help organizations issue an electronic certificate to their online volunteers. The certificate features the task, volunteer name and the organization’s name and logo;

f. Featuring online volunteers’ contributions: a great way of showing appreciation is to publish online volunteers’ stories on websites or in newsletters and reports.