Saluting volunteers is a key aspect of retention and recruitment. But how can community leaders even begin to show their gratitude towards volunteers?
The Importance of Saluting Volunteers
Homeowners associations don’t run themselves. These associations depend largely on volunteers to keep the wheels running and the cogs turning. And because volunteers rarely, if ever, receive compensation, it is critical to pay them back through other means.
Saluting volunteerism accomplishes three things. First, displaying your appreciation in a public manner will make volunteers feel good about their contributions. It will make them feel like they’re doing something worthwhile. And while compliments shouldn’t be the driving force behind their actions, they certainly don’t hurt.
Second, recognizing volunteers will encourage others to follow in their footsteps. When other members witness the HOA’s gratitude, it will inspire them to make meaningful contributions as well. This is particularly helpful if your community’s struggling to get more residents involved.
Finally, it will help encourage a cycle of positivity in the community. Positivity is contagious, and showing your appreciation in even the smallest of ways can still make a difference. And, frankly, it’s good PR.
How to Show Appreciation to Volunteers
Celebrating volunteers poses several benefits. Yet, many communities find it hard to express their gratitude in clear terms. And while the occasional pat on the back is a good place to start, there are more effective ways to show your appreciation.
If you’re having trouble saluting volunteers, here are some ideas to get you on the right track.
1. Write Personalized “Thank You” Notes
Although you can show appreciation by saying “thank you,” there’s something about a handwritten note that just makes it feel more special. A personalized note shows that you took the time to write about how much you value volunteers.
When crafting your note, make sure to specify their contributions and admirable qualities. Don’t just scribble a general “thank you” message. That just shows that you didn’t really think about them individually.
2. Compliment Volunteers
Words can be very powerful, and words of affirmation can increase satisfaction among volunteers. When you receive positive feedback from homeowners about a project, share that feedback with volunteers who helped make the project successful.
Managing a community is a team effort. And it’s important not to let the contributions of volunteers go unnoticed. Complimenting them on their traits and accomplishments is a good way to retain volunteers and attract new ones.
3. Highlight Accomplishments at Meetings
Leaders should believe in the old saying, “Criticize in private and praise in public.” These are words to live by when saluting volunteers. When a volunteer makes a mistake, don’t broadcast it to the entire community. In contrast, when a volunteer does something worth praising, do so in a public setting.
The perfect place to honor volunteers is at the annual membership meeting. This is when most of the homeowners in your HOA are in attendance. During the meeting, set aside time to recognize the achievements of volunteers and thank them for helping make the community a better place over the past year. A lot of residents may not even be aware of who the volunteers are, so this is a great opportunity to introduce and highlight them.
4. Plan Volunteer Appreciation Events
If you’re looking for something a bit grander, why not throw a party or plan an event as a salute to volunteers? This accomplishes two things at once. One, it allows you to honor volunteers and thank them for their hard work. Two, it gets residents together under one roof to socialize with their neighbors.
There are several event ideas you can utilize, too. You can do a fancy catered luncheon or a more casual cocktail party. Depending on the season, you can even do a block party or an outdoor cookout.
Of course, social gatherings like these don’t come cheap. To save on money, consider organizing a single appreciation event for volunteers for the year. You might even want to do it on the same day as your annual meeting.
5. Present Volunteers With Awards
One of the hardest things to accomplish is retaining volunteers. Volunteer retention is all about giving credit where credit is due and fostering good relationships. And while all volunteers deserve praise, there will certainly be a handful who go above and beyond what’s expected of them. To honor these special volunteers, consider presenting them with awards.
It may seem cheesy to give out trophies and certificates, but they are tangible proof of recognition. They serve as a reminder to volunteers of their efforts to make the community a better place.
6. Feature Volunteers in Your Newsletter
To maintain a positive vibe throughout the community, it’s important to dedicate a section of your newsletter or website to volunteers. Express your thanks and highlight their achievements. This is another public way to demonstrate your appreciation to them.
Of course, it can get pretty one-note if you just write the same thing every issue. Mix it up by featuring a different volunteer each time. You might also want to do a “Volunteer of the Month” page on your community website. Think about featuring interviews with volunteers, allowing them to share their stories and experiences. In doing so, they can also encourage others to serve the community.
7. Feature Achievements on Social Media
While newsletters and community websites work great for putting the spotlight on volunteers, not everyone reads them. In the age of hyperconnectivity, social media is really where the action is.
If your HOA maintains a social media presence, use your platform to show your appreciation for volunteers. Post photos of volunteers at events or meetings, publish quotes and short interviews, and make shout-outs every now and then. Don’t forget to tag the volunteers you’re highlighting, too. This way, you can give them more visibility.
That said, you should keep your community’s social media policy in mind. Make sure you’re not going against any of the rules. And don’t forget to seek permission from volunteers before tagging them or posting their photos.
8. Salute All Volunteers – Including Fellow Board Members
All volunteers play a significant role in the continued success of an HOA. In the midst of recognizing other volunteers, board members may forget about themselves. Board members shoulder the most responsibility in associations. And they often take the brunt of any type of criticism. As such, you shouldn’t leave out your fellow board members when applying these tips.
The End Goal
As you can see, you can show your appreciation for the volunteers in your HOA community in many ways. Although saluting volunteers does help the association in the end, it should primarily be about letting residents know how vital their contributions are. Use these ways to highlight volunteers, encourage others, and spread positivity.
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- Volunteer Success: What’s The Secret?
- How To Volunteer At A Local Red Cross As An Individual And As A Community
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