What do we mean by Volunteer Recognition?
When we refer to Volunteer Recognition, we are talking about recognizing volunteers for specific accomplishments and/or consistent, outstanding performance. Recognition can be given in a standard and formal method, or it can be informal and spontaneous (examples of both below), but it is based on specific work done by the volunteer.
Chapter leaders are encouraged to have some form of volunteer recognition working in their chapters on a regular basis. Even if no formal program is set up, it benefits the volunteers and the chapter as a whole when members are confident that the initiative they show and the things they accomplish don't go unnoticed or unrecognized.
Ideas and methods of providing recognition at the chapter level
Annual (and/or other periodic) Awards
Many chapters do already, but consider having an annual awards ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of your volunteers. This can be in the form of a luncheon, a dinner, a chapter meeting etc. Whichever format you choose, it's important to set specific time aside on a periodic basis (annual, quarterly, monthly) to recognize your volunteers for outstanding work being done.
Each chapter will have different awards (and criteria) that make sense for them, but below are just a few ideas you might consider implementing. Name of the chapter who currently uses a given award and suggested to SCORE HQ is included in parentheses:
- Chapter "MVP" Award - award given to volunteer who has contributed the most to client success and engagement (Metro NJ Chapter)
- "Key Contributor" Award - award given to volunteer who has contributed the most to the success of the chapter (Metro NJ Chapter)
- "Rookie of the Year" Award - award given to new volunteer who fully engages with the chapter and becomes a high-performing contributor right away (Savannah GA and Orange County CA Chapters)
- Distinguished Service Award(s) - criteria will vary, but award given to volunteer(s) who provide consistent superior service to clients (Houston TX Chapter and TN District)
- Positional Awards - award(s) given to top performers in various Volunteer/Chapter Positions, i.e. Mentor, Workshop Presenter, Facilitator, Client Service Manager. More likely to be given in medium/large chapters (Seattle WA and Houston TX Chapters)
- Years of Service Awards - SCORE HQ recognizes volunteers for their years of service, starting with their 5-year anniversary, and then every following 5-year milestone (10, 15, 20 etc.). At the local level, chapters often recognize different service periods or highlight volunteer anniversaries each year.
Check out the Resource Portal which has links to certificates and plaques that can be ordered from the SCORE Store.
Chapters don't have to wait until an annual or quarterly event to hand out awards for outstanding service. Volunteers accomplish great things across the nation every day, and chapters should definitely take opportunity to honor those accomplishments in the moment.
Below are some ideas for spontaneous recognition that can be given whenever warranted. Name of the chapter who currently uses a given award and suggested to SCORE HQ is included in parentheses:
- Difference Maker Coins - on the spot awards given to volunteers making a difference in the chapter and in their community (TN District)
- Outstanding Volunteer Coins - given to volunteers who have contributed to extraordinary initiatives in the chapter (Kansas City MO Chapter)
- "NPS 10 Club" - recognize all volunteers who have received a perfect NPS survey from one or more clients in a given time period. Recognition can be provided regularly (like during the monthly chapter meeting) as well (Savannah GA Chapter)
- Volunteer Heroes - recognize individual or groups of volunteers for extraordinary efforts on projects/initiatives that have taken place in a given time period, i.e. converting a workshop program to a virtual event in just 24 hours (Seattle WA Chapter)
Highlighting the outstanding work of your volunteers, whether within SCORE or to your local community, is a great method of providing recognition and boosting morale. Highlights can be provided in written form or simply communicated during group meetings or calls.
Beyond just recognition, volunteer spotlights can also help bolster the mindset of One SCORE, by giving volunteers the opportunity to learn about each other's strengths and expertise, which they can draw on if needed with their own clients. Additionally, volunteer spotlights that are accessible to the community can help strengthen a chapter's profile and standing with potential clients and partners, as they are able to see what SCORE volunteers can provide them.
Below are just some of the ways in which you can highlight your volunteers and their accomplishments either internally or externally. Name of the chapter who currently uses a given spotlight method and suggested to SCORE HQ is included in parentheses:
- SCORE HQ Volunteer Spotlight - chapters can submit volunteers (or chapter successes) to be featured in our monthly Volunteer Spotlight newsletter. The Volunteer Spotlight is sent out on the first Monday of each month. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- New Volunteer Introductions - after onboarding is complete, highlight new volunteers in a monthly chapter newsletter with a summary of background and interests. If chapter does not send a newsletter, this can be done during the monthly meeting instead (Houston TX Chapter)
- Volunteer Profile - on a regular basis, post Volunteer Profiles highlighting their skills and expertise on chapter social media pages such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. (Savannah GA Chapter)
- Local Chapter Volunteer Spotlight - during each monthly chapter meeting, highlight the skills, expertise, and accomplishments of a different volunteer (Orange County CA Chapter)
- Client Feedback - whether in a newsletter or in a chapter meeting, publish the feedback from clients recognizing the efforts from particular mentors (Kansas City MO Chapter)