|Volunteers helping at registration,
Without volunteers, most genealogy societies would cease to exist. Imagine all of the projects that your society is working on. Publishing a newsletter. Maintaining a website. Reading cemeteries. Abstracting obituaries. Assisting people with research. Hosting seminars. Preserving records. Now imagine doing all of that work with no volunteers.
April 12-18, 2015 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. It’s a time when organizations across the United States recognize and pay tribute to the invaluable people who carry out the important work of the group.
Here’s a little secret: Your appreciation shouldn’t be limited to just one week. Volunteers don’t expect to be paid (hence, “volunteer”), but they’re still human. People have a need to know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.
Here’s another little secret: If you don’t appreciate your volunteers, they’ll go someplace that does.
Here are 10 easy ways you can show your volunteers that you truly appreciate them.
1. Say “Thank You”
There’s a reason your mother made you say “thank you.” It’s a sign of respect. It lets the other person know that you noticed what they did and that you appreciate it. It sounds simplistic, but simply saying “thank you” goes a long way to making your volunteers feel good about helping.
2. Award Them
Do you have a volunteer who went above and beyond on a particular project or event? Give them the award that your society has established for these special people! (Don’t have such a thing? Make one. You can also issue something like a “president’s certificate” to show that the society is behind it.) FGS would like to help you recognize the awesome volunteers in your society. Nominate them for an FGS award!
3. Tell Her Boss
You know that volunteer who helped get the society’s financial statements in order? What about the one who was instrumental in getting a $1,000 grant? Send her boss a letter detailing what she did and how it helped your society. (Added bonus: It gives your society a bit of exposure with a business in the area.)
4. Say “Thank You” Again
Thanking the people who keep your society running isn’t a “one and done” proposition. Tell them again how much you sincerely appreciate them.
5. Listen to Them
Volunteers are down in the trenches. They know how the projects are working – and how they’re not working. They can have great ideas on how things can be improved. Listen to them. You may not take all of their suggestions, but the act of listening can really help people know that you care.
6. Help Them Do Their Jobs
Is there a project that’s harder than necessary because of the tools that the volunteers use? Maybe the old photocopier is constantly jamming or filing cabinet drawers are always stuck. Replacing these things takes away a source of frustration – and who doesn’t want less frustration?
7. Say “Thank You” Once More
Are you picking up on a theme here?
8. Give to a Favorite Cause
People can use only so many plaques and certificates. Instead of recognizing volunteers’ efforts by giving them something they have to dust, give them something that speaks to their hearts. Make a donation in their name to a favorite cause. (Might we suggest Preserve the Pensions?)
9. Tell the World
Volunteers are the light of your society. Let that light shine! Tell the world about the awesome volunteers that you have. Announce it in your newsletter and on your website and blog. Send a press release to your local newspaper and include details of how their efforts impacted your society and the community at large. For examples, check out these posts on the FGS Voice blog.
10. Say “Thank You”
Few things make people feel better about helping than to have someone offer their sincere thanks. Make sure you give yours.