Appreciating yeoman service – a volunteer’s thoughts
Mahendra Fernando
14 November 2019

The below comments were submitted to unlocked.lk by and independent volunteer contributor. To submit your views and opinions to an ongoing Unlocked.lk discussios, visit our submit content page in the menu, or email your views to [email protected]

 

“It is my opinion that adding “Points” on to a centrally issued Volunteer Identification Card (VIC) map with existing NIC is one of the best ways to quantify each volunteer’s contribution thoughtfully & meaningfully at any given time. It is worth rewarding the selfless efforts of people already volunteering to provide their services to community/society continuously. It is also important to remember that “Great Volunteers are worth more than we think”

Suggest following to be implemented.

Issuing a Volunteer Identification Card (VIC)

This deals with the issuance of a Volunteer Identification Card suitably at a centrally controlled database (National Body) through any NGO or NNGO when the volunteers join the local volunteering sector for the first time. Initial data sheet must be designed covering all data of Volunteers. Primary data should include Age Groups (Children 15-20Y, Youth 20-30Y, Young Adults 30-40Y & Aged 40Y & Above), Their Expertise Areas & other relevant information. Points must be added according to the number of hours they participated for volunteer missions.

Periodically & Regularly (Yearly or whenever possible) the volunteers across the country must be rewarded on National/Reginal Level & Age Levels. This way it encourages others also to get out of their comfort zone and come forward in bettering their communities. The services rendered by volunteers (for free) shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Providing Social Recognition According to Points Earned Through The VIC

Volunteers to be categorized Based on Age Groups

  • Children 15-20Y – Concessions when Moving to High-schools or Universities

  • Youth 20-30Y – Applying for Employments

  • Young Adults 30-40Y – Write to their employers on their good work

  • Aged 40Y & Above – Priority for National Hospital Entrance, Some concessions on Public Transport, Cinema, Invitations to National Events

  • Common to all Age Groups – Free on Public Vehicle Parks

Also, there are many other ways to thank your volunteers.

  • Talk to Them and build good relationships

  • Recognise their achievements

  • Reward them with tokens of appreciation

 

Paying Attention to the Opinions of Volunteers

Volunteers must not be treated only as tools to help you execute your mission—they must be treated like your own staff members. Get to know the people who are giving up their time to be with you. Ask them about why they believe in your mission and try asking for feedback to show them that you respect their opinion. Send out a survey that poses questions of what they like about volunteering with you, what they think could change and what keeps them coming back.

Highlight their Achievements

Show off your awesome volunteers! Spotlight a group or individual on social media, on your website or in your newsletters. Show the world the cool things they’re doing and how they’re acting out to accomplish your mission. Donors will see that you’re taking solid steps towards creating change in your community, and volunteers will get excited about their 15 minutes of fame. A great public display of affection for your volunteers is a win-win for everyone.

Give them a token of appreciation

When volunteers give you their time, that’s time they’re taking away from their jobs, personal lives and families. While it’s really great that they’re choosing to spend their free time with you, it wouldn’t hurt to remind them that you appreciate their decision to do so. Give them tickets to a show they can go to with their partner, or a gift card to a restaurant their family will love. If money is tight, give them a handwritten thank you letter or an extra day off to catch up on work.

Maintain National level (Centrally Monitored Data Base) for Volunteer Management

Keep a calendar of volunteers’ birthdays and send them a card to let them know that what they do matters and to show that the world is thinking about them. Take note of the skills they presented on their resumes and then remember those when assigning them tasks. Letting them utilize their skills that you genuinely recognize.

Volunteer Recognition, Recruitment and Retainment

Volunteers are essential for non-profits, especially in their beginning stages. But no matter what stage, when a charity receives a generous monetary donation, that is given enough and more recognition. But what about the volunteer who gives over one thousand hours of personal time to an NGO, how is that contribution quantified? Generally, the estimated value of volunteer time for 2017 was $24.14 per hour. It is true that donors deserve recognition for their generosity, however, the volunteers deserve the same amount of recognition too. The cost of the recognition doesn’t really matter. It’s the genuineness of those gestures that count the most.

  • How to genuinely appreciation volunteers: Remember, recognition should be frequent and appropriate for the time/period, the volunteer’s age, longevity with your organization, their unique personality. Volunteers Enjoy Acts of Gratitude, Not Expensive Objects. Honestly, most volunteers don’t want to be lavished with praise. Their reward is in the giving of their time and sharing of their talents. However, on the part of the society, there are numerous ways in which we can pay gratitude and the system of “Converting Points Earned by Volunteers” is one among them.

  • Surprise recognition: Spot them in the act of volunteering for spontaneous celebration.

  • Request the local government involvement in the process of appreciation: Get the city’s mayor to recognize top volunteer/volunteers.

  • Capture the moment: Spot them in the act of volunteering

  • Send a letter of thanks and recognition to the volunteer’s employer: When donating time during regular working hours, courtesy of the employer.

  • Appreciate volunteer’s family: When member of the family volunteering in a mission, he can’t be with the family & family is making a compromise.

  • Put appreciation event photos on website and post them on your social media. 

  • Free/Concessions/Priority Access to Public utilities (Parking lots/Cinemas/Banks/Public Transport)

  • Host an event for the families of your volunteers: Try a picnic, a bowling party, hot air balloon ride, an ice cream social or some other fun-filled day.

  • Organise event: Arrange special recognition event for a retiring volunteer with participation of fellow volunteers, the volunteer’s family & friends.

  • Create a Volunteer hand-book: Write comments and quotes about the volunteers individually. It should Include photos and brief descriptions of past volunteer projects.

Always keep in mind to think of thoughtful and meaningful ways of making our volunteers feel content and happy.”

Mahendra Fernando
14 November 2019
Mahendra Fernanado is volunteer from Moratuwa. He describes himself as "Married & blessed with two children". Fernando is a retired professional with more than 35 years (25 Years overseas) of working experience in Shippping, logistics & Procurement. He is also a member of UNV Sri Lanka's V-Force & Presently on short volunteers assignment at OMP. You can reach him on +94 775 774 713, or at [email protected]

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