February 1998 // Volume 36 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT1

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Recognizing Volunteers: Right from the Start

"Recognizing Volunteers: Right from the Start" is an easy-to-use kit for supporting volunteers throughout their tenure of service. Its main theme is that recognition is a relationship, not an event. The training manual provides a complete guide for pre-preparation and conducting a 2-hour workshop. It includes a lesson plan, handouts, transparencies, and activities. Using these materials could help Extension and other agencies more effectively utilize volunteers.

Janet H. Hiller
Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist
Department of Human Development
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington
Internet address: hillerj@wsu.edu

Recognizing Volunteers: Right from the Start. Nan Hawthorne, 1997. Easy-to-use Training Kit. $27.95 plus shipping and handling. 9594 First Ave NE, Suite 413, Seattle WA 98115-2012.

For years and years we in Extension have too often recognized all of our volunteers in the same manner: dinners, programs, gifts, and certificates! This cookie-cutter approach to everyone was based on an image of the volunteer from decades past, an image that was inaccurate even then.

Attracting today's volunteers and keeping them contented takes more than a simple "thank you" bash once a year. They are more focused, more clear on what they need out of the experience, and more keenly aware of where else they can go if they are not feeling rewarded by your organization. Today's volunteers, bright, talented, savvy, and self-aware, no longer accept warm fuzzies and a preprinted certificate as reward enough for taking time out of their busy schedules to volunteer.

How, then do we get beyond the stale practices of the past to provide reward and meaning relevant to today's volunteers? One way is to look at recognition as a relationship, not as an event. This is the premise that is the basis for Nan Hawthorne's easy-to -use training kit.

Each kit contains:

  • easy-to-follow 14-page training manual
  • full set of masters for dynamic handouts
  • attractive transparencies
  • announcement flyer template
  • diskette with all handouts and transparencies in text
  • format (PC only) for customization

You could use these materials to help Extension or other community agencies and organizations that utilize volunteers gain new insights into why people volunteer and what makes them feel fulfilled and successful. Their increased understanding would serve as a foundation to build recognition of a volunteer's needs into every aspect of their volunteer experience (position development, recruitment, supervision, recognition) with your agency or organization. The outcome is likely to be happy, satisfied individuals that keep volunteering for your agency or organization!

The training manual provides a complete guide for pre- preparation and conducting a 2-hour workshop. You are also provided with a complete listing of the workshop handouts, transparencies, possible responses to the workshop set-up, and activities. In a minimal amount of time you would be prepared to teach a dynamic workshop. These easy-to-use materials are packaged in a folder that could easily fit in your file or on a bookshelf.

Conclusion: Order the "Recognizing Volunteers: Right from the Start" kit today and begin thinking about and acting on the idea that recognition of volunteers is a relationship, not an event!