What do we mean by Volunteer Appreciation?
When we refer to Volunteer Appreciation, we are talking about expressing gratitude to our volunteers for their commitment to SCORE's mission and the time and effort they put in to helping clients in their communities. Acts of appreciation are typically spontaneous and are often group-oriented more so than individual, though they can be (and often are) administered on an individual level. While volunteer appreciation and recognition are similar and overlap in several areas, the main distinction is that appreciation is not based on specific accomplishments or performance. Rather, its a means of saying "Thank You!" to our volunteers for being the driving force of SCORE.
Chapter leaders are encouraged to take every opportunity they can to show appreciation for their volunteers. Genuine appreciation can and should be expressed regularly, and any gesture, big or small, can go a long way in boosting chapter morale and increasing volunteer engagement.
Ideas and methods of showing appreciation at the chapter level
Group Events (In-Person and/or Virtual)
Group events (whether in-person or virtual) are a great chance to reflect on all the important things your chapter has accomplished while providing the opportunity to show appreciation for each member. Whether formal or informal, group events can be a fruitful time of volunteer interaction and camaraderie, during which chapter leaders can express their gratitude and appreciation to the members for all they do.
Below are just a few types of group events that chapters can consider holding themselves. Obviously, in-person events are likely off the table for most if not all chapters at this time, but chapters can still begin planning for when things begin to open back up. Name of the chapter who holds given event and suggested to SCORE HQ is included in parentheses:
- FY Kick-Off Event - chapters can host a group luncheon or dinner for all chapter members at a local restaurant at the start of each fiscal year (Savannah GA Chapter)
- Year-End Event - chapters can host a year-end holiday luncheon for volunteers and their partners, where they can also recognize accomplishments from the past year (Seattle WA Chapter)
- Alternative Chapter Meetings - chapter meetings don't always need to be held at the same place or only cover business every time. Chapters can consider having meetings at local coffee shops or restaurants, or having different activities for members to participate in with each other.
- Happy Hours - virtual or in-person, these are great opportunities for volunteers to get to know each other better. Chapter leaders may also choose to recognize new members and have them introduce themselves.
Interested in providing SCORE Swag to your volunteers at an appreciation event? Check out the Resource Portal which has links to promotional items and apparel that can be ordered from the SCORE Store.
Involve SCORE HQ
SCORE HQ is ready to help in your chapter's efforts to express volunteer appreciation. Inviting a member of SCORE HQ to take part in your chapter meeting can be a great way to show appreciation and solidify the One SCORE mindset. During this time when most meetings are being held virtually, it's easier than ever to have interaction between local chapters and SCORE HQ. Whether it's a member of the Executive Leadership Team offering some words of praise and congratulations after a chapter success, or a member of one of the departments presenting on a relevant topic during a chapter meeting, involving SCORE HQ can help energize your chapter and show that appreciation is important to everyone in the organization.
If you are interested in having someone from SCORE HQ attend a chapter meeting/event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with all relevant information.
Note: Even virtually, involvement of SCORE HQ employees is obviously subject to their schedule availability. It's best to make request with sufficient time in advance, in order to allow them to set aside time for the appearance.
Increased Volunteer Involvement
Sometimes an overlooked aspect of appreciation is making sure volunteers truly feel as though their voices matter in the chapter. Most volunteers who join SCORE will not hold a chapter leadership position or be responsible for making decisions that impact an entire district, but they all join with their own strengths and ideas. It is important that chapter leaders draw on the full wealth of knowledge and expertise available amongst their chapter members, and solicit input and feedback whenever possible. Involving volunteers in various areas of chapter operations shows a genuine appreciation for their time, effort and talents.
Below are some methods to get volunteers, new and experienced, more involved in chapter operations:
- Invite to Committee/Leadership Meetings - periodically invite volunteers to participate in or sit in on various committee/leadership meetings. Provide opportunity either during meeting or afterward to offer ideas and suggestions.
- Mentor Roundtable - at chapter meetings, invite volunteers who have achieved noteworthy client successes to present the situations to the entire group in a roundtable format that stimulates discussion, suggestions, and examples of best practices (Savannah GA Chapter)
- Review New Volunteer and Exit Survey Data - chapter leaders should review the feedback received via the New Volunteer Survey and the Departing Volunteer Survey. Themes and action plans can be discussed with the chapter overall, while personal follow up can be given to those who warrant it based on their responses.