Volunteer Recognition: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

No, we aren’t really talking about crime and punishment this week. Rather, in this the second installment of the NE District 4-H blog’s series on volunteer management we will be taking a look at matching volunteer recognition to individuals’ motivational styles.

It’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work when it comes to volunteer recognition. In the Journal of Extension Article “Recognizing Adult 4-H Volunteer Leaders” (Culp & Schwartz, 1998) the authors found that while 4-H faculty and staff were traditionally offering recognition by primarily through:

  • Tangible awards (plaques, certificates, pins, etc.)
  • Banquet or Luncheon
  • Complimentary Fair Passes

    Volunteers contrarily reported the top three ways in which they preferred recognition as:

  • Thank you notes. (Might I remind you at this point of last week’s- “Be Sincere, Be Specific” rules.
  • “Pat on the back.”
  • Formal recognition banquets

The whole article is fascinating and I encourage you to check it out, but the bottomline is even if we are offering recognition, it may not always be received positively if it doesn’t match the motivational needs of the volunteers. How do you determine those needs? One cool tool you can check out is the “Volunteer Recognition Tool” .  Through this site, volunteers can answer a series of questions and have their preferences be emailed directly to their volunteer manager.

While the Volunteer Recognition Tool is interesting, I would argue now that I’ve shared it with you that it is NOT what you want to use with all of your volunteers. (Do you really want to add another note to each volunteer file regarding their “test results”?)  There is in fact, an easier way. Read on next week as we discuss “speedreading” volunteers to determine how to best recognize their efforts.





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1 Response to Volunteer Recognition: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

  1. Pingback: ISOTURE #6: Recognition | Florida 4-H: Northeast District

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