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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs run by state agencies, including information for parks, natural resources and social and health programs.

~ February 2006 ~ Topics

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Volunteer Recognition

Typically, in a government volunteer program, little if any money is available for recognition. This always presents a challenge in recognizing the good work that our volunteers do.

In order to recognize our volunteers, we often need to become creative. I have done several things that I feel have been effective. One thing, of course, is to recognize volunteers on an ongoing basis. Giving them verbal recognition for something they've done (or just a general we appreciate you being here, thanks for what you are doing, etc.), is always a nice way to do some ongoing recognition.

One way to keep expenses down for an annual recognition is to have staff (including yourself) sponsor a party (it can be a luncheon in the office, an ice cream social, or cake and punch). Staff can be responsible for providing the food for the event, and they can also provide any other products (paper items, etc.) that are needed. Certificates can be made quite inexpensively (computers are wonderful for this!) and presented at the luncheon. If you want to make them a little nicer, you can put them in a certificate holder. It is important to find out early on if the agency has a budget for volunteer recognition (sometimes it can be taken out of the budget for employee recognition) and how much is available, so you know how to plan and what needs to be provided by staff. You can tailor the party to meet the budget.

Other inexpensive ways to recognize volunteers, throughout the year, is to send birthday/anniversary cards (easy and fairly inexpensive, but requires organization), a thank you card for doing a specific task or just for being there, an occasional treat with a "Thanks!" attached.

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Terry Schroeder is a social worker at the Division of Children & Family Services in Bremerton, WA. She has worked for the department for 28 years, the last 20 working with volunteers in some capacity. She is also an avid volunteer, currently serving on three local non-profit boards and one advisory board. She can be contacted by calling: 360-475-3571 or emailing her at: thes300@dshs.wa.gov.

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