Monday, March 26, 2012

For Only $10 Dollars

I paid my $10 annual dues recently and officially became a member of the Crow Wing County Volunteer Coordinators. What a dynamic group of women and one man who network monthly and are 1000% committed to their nonprofit work in the community.

We were discussing the upcoming National Volunteer Week April 15 to the 21 and the question was posed: “How do you buy the trinkets for your volunteers and how to do you budget for it?”

A 27-minute discussion followed and I feverishly took notes. I felt like I was at a workshop and started feeling a little guilty to be getting such great ideas for a mere $10 dollar bill.

“You have to thank them, have to validate your volunteers. I do it at three mandatory meetings a year. My board does all the prepping and serving. Once during Volunteer Week, one in August during a picnic and one in December for the holiday season. I label the mandatory meetings volunteer continuing education.”

“We don’t do anything. Our volunteers don’t want us to spend any money on them. They don’t even want certificates.”

“We budget for volunteer recognition and host a lunch or dinner at a restaurant once a year.”

“I host a potluck at my home on the lake, the volunteers love it.”

“During the year, I take pictures of people volunteering, frame them and give out at the end of the year.”

“I buy cards and send them on their birthdays. They like getting the mail.”

“I call my volunteers on their birthday and sing to them.”

“I email an e-card, I like the site Jackie Lawson for only $10.”

“Each volunteer wants something different, some want that pin or certificate, some don’t. It’s an “art” to figure out how to thank each person.”

“I like to put their pictures in the newspaper.”

“We have a volunteer Blog and they like that.”

“It’s kind of a ridiculous place to cut because as budgets get tighter, my volunteers do the equivalent work of two full time employees so recording their hours is so important, it validates that they gave service to our organization.”

“I’m in the process of planning the 39th annual recognition banquet and I’m looking for entertainment for the 55+ crowd, anyone have an idea?”

As the meeting wrapped up, my agenda was filled with notes from the experts who live this everyday and build the relationships with the hundreds of volunteers who continue to do the good work in our community. If only every meeting that I attended offered such practical and useful words of wisdom……

Amy Wyant, NRS, Brainerd