Wayfinding and city signage
The value of “thank you”
In one of the most famous speeches of his career, John F. Kennedy called upon a nation to “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Fast forward five decades later … burdened with shrinking budgets and growing public expectations, recruitment and retention of quality volunteers is just as crucial today as it was in the war-ravaged 60s. Fear not—creating a call to volunteerism isn’t as difficult as you may think. Start with two simple words: thank you.In a report compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 42 percent of volunteers became involved after being asked to participate, typically by someone within the organization. This highlights the importance of a positive experience for your current workforce. To create a perception of value for your volunteers, first consider their motivation for giving their time. Helping others is the primary focus, but volunteers typically have a secondary motivation, like anchoring themselves within an altruistic community.

The “A-VICTORY” model was created by Dianne Clarke-Kudless and Andrew McCabe to assist local governments implement volunteer recruitment and retention strategies. The acronym A-VICTORY is a series of volunteer-centric questions designed to assess the following areas: ability, value, idea, circumstances, time, obligation, resistance and yield. Combining these elements of servitude with small tokens of appreciation will undoubtedly create a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Here are a few tips for acknowledging your participants throughout the service process:

Pre-service
Many volunteers are often anxious and unsure of their ability to contribute. Here are a few ways to convey gratitude for their presence and put their minds at ease:

  • Show appreciation for their donated time by communicating expectations. This ensures a likely fit for your organization and shows respect for your volunteers’ time.
  • Give each volunteer a welcome kit that defines the mission of your organization. Include inspirational business card magnets and encourage your volunteers to tell others about their experiences.
  • Engage your volunteers by establishing realistic and achievable goals for their service.
  • Open lines of communication to empower each individual and establish a sense of community, which are common motivators for volunteerism.

Service
According to a study conducted by the Volunteer Centre | Ottawa-Carleton, participants didn’t return to an organization for several reasons, including disorganized management, staff indifference, lack of support or having the wrong assignment. Here are a few ways to be attentive to their needs:

  • Monitor the little things, like ensuring basic needs are met on your watch and fostering a caring atmosphere. Provide water and periodically provide meals or energizing snacks like trail mix or granola bars.
  • Provide personal items depending on the service project location. For example, the Let’s Move initiative aims to involve kids in outdoor activities, so provide sunglasses, bandanas or umbrellas to volunteers to help stave off the elements.
  • Show interest in personal progress by providing volunteers with both verbal and written feedback on their initial goals. Assessing their progress on a schedule, based on the duration of the project, allows them either positive reinforcement or recognition that they are not on the appropriate assignment.

Post-service
When volunteers have completed their project, you should remain connected with them. Maintain a dialogue to retain their affiliation and recruit other volunteers through the power of their experience. Create a community of volunteers by using this post-service period as a recruitment opportunity. Help them continue with your organization and the community of volunteers they met.

  • To convey a genuine appreciation, avoid informal emails and opt instead for a personalized, handwritten thank you note. If applicable, include photos illustrating their participation.
  • Explain how their specified task helped the cause. This reminder of their contribution will entice them to volunteer again.
  • Create an online community allowing volunteers to virtually reconnect and share their experiences and advice.

Incorporating these gestures of appreciation into your organization will give volunteers the rewarding experience they are looking for. As Winston Churchill once stated, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Kennedy, John F. Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1989; Bartleby.com, 2001. 13 April 2012.

“Volunteering in the United States, 2011.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2 Feb. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

“Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating.” Statistics Canada. 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

Clarke-Kudless, Dianne, and Andrew McCabe. “NJLM – Skills Update – A Challenge for Towns Large and Small.” New Jersey State League of Municipalities. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

Ancans, Indra S. “Why People Volunteer.” Volunteer Centre Ottawa-Carleton. 1992. 30 Apr. 2012.

“Let’s Move.” Let’s Move. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

July
Monthly
Air-Conditioning Appreciation Days (7/3 to 8/15)
Bereaved Parents Month
Bioterrorism/Disaster Education & Awareness Month
Cell Phone Courtesy Month
Dog Days
Eggplant and Lettuce Month
Family Reunion Month
Family Golf Month
Freedom From Fear of Speaking Month
Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month
Herbal/Prescription Awareness Month
International Blondie and Deborah Harry Month
International Group B Strep Awareness Month
International Women with Alopecia Month
International Zine Month
Mango and Melon Month
National Black Family Month
National Blueberries Month
National Child-Centered Divorce Month
National “Doghouse Repairs” Month
National Grilling
National Ice Cream Month
National Horseradish Month
National Hot Dog Month
National Independent Retailers Month
National Make a Difference to Children Month
National Recreation and Parks
National Share a Sunset Month
National Wheelchair Beautification Month
Nectarine and Garlic Month
Sandwich Generation Month
Smart Irrigation Month
Social Wellness Month
Tour de France Month
Women’s Motorcycle Month
Weekly
National Unassisted homebirth Week: 1-7
Be Nice to New Jersey Week: 1-7
Freedom Week: 4-10
International Chicken Wing Week: 6-8
Sports Cliché Week: 8-14
National Farriers Week: 8-14
Nude Recreation Week: 9-15
National Baby Food Week: 12-15
Wayne Chicken (Tribute to Chickens) Week: 13-15
National Parenting Gifted Children Week: 15-21
Rabbit Week: 15-21
Captive Nations Week: 15-21
National Independent Retailers Week: 15-21
National Zoo Keeper Week: 15-21
National Baby Food Week: 18-21
National Ventriloquism Week: 18-21
Restless Leg Syndrome Education & Awareness Week: 18-25
Garlic Days: 18-25
World Lumberjack Championships: 27-29
Single Working Woman’s Week: 29-8/4
Daily
1: Canada Day
1: International Chicken Wing Day
1: Second Half of The Year Day
1: U.S. Postage Stamp Day
1: Zip Code Day
1-3: Rosewell UFO Days
2: I Forgot Day
2: Made in the USA Day
3: Compliment Your Mirror Day
3: Stay Out Of The Sun Day
4: Fourth of July or Independence Day
4: Independence From Meat Day
4: Indivisible Day
5: Earth at Aphelion
5: Bikini Day
6: International Kissing Day or World Kiss Day
6: Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day
7: Carver Day
7: Chocolate Day
7: Father-Daughter Take A Walk Together Day
7: Global Forgiveness Day
7: Hop A Park Day
7: International Cherry Pit Spitting Day
7: International Day of Cooperatives
7: Tell The Truth Day
8: SCUD Day (Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama)
9: Martyrdom of The Bab
9: International Town Criers Day
10: Clerihew Day
10: Don’t Step On A Bee Day
10: Pina Colada Day
10: Teddy Bear’s Picnic Day11: Bowdler’s Day
11: Slurpee Day
11: World Population Day
13: Collector Car Appreciation Day
13: Embrace Your Geekness Day
13: Gruntled Workers Day
13: National French Fries Day
14: Bald In-Bald Out Day
14: Grange Day
14: International Nude Day
14 or 21: Cow Appreciation Day
15: Gummi Worm Day
15: Saint Swithin’s Day
15: National Ice Cream Day
16: National Get Out of the Doghouse Day
16: Global Hug Your Kid Day
17: Wrong Way Corrigan Day
17: Yellow Pig Day
18: International Mandela Day
19: Flitch Day
19: Get to Know Your Customers Day
20: Moon Day
20: National Lollipop Day
20: Ramadan
21-22: Celebrate the Horse Day
21: National Hot Dog Day
21: Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day
21: Woodie Wagon Day
21: Legal Drinking Age Day
22: National Penuche Fudge Day
22: Parents’ Day
22: Rat-catcher Day
22: Spooners (Spoonerism) Day
23: Gorgeous Grandma Day
23: Hot Enough For Ya Day
24: Cousins Day
24: Mormon Pioneer Day
24: National Drive-Thru Day
24: Tell an Old Joke Day
25: Carousel Day or Merry-Go-Round Day
25: Thread The Needle Day
26: National Chili Dog Day
26: One Voice
27: Barbie-in-a-blender Day
27: National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
27: National Talk in An Elevator Day
27: System Administrator Appreciation Day
27: Take Your Houseplant For A Walk Day
27: Walk on Stilts Day
28: Buffalo Soldiers Day
28: National Day of the Cowboy
28: National Milk Chocolate Day
28: Paddle for Perthes Disease Awareness Day
29: Lasagna Day
29: Lumberjack Day
29: Rain Day
29: Tish B’Av
30: Cheesecake Day
30: Father-In-Law Day
30: Paperback Book Day
August
Monthly
American Adventures Month
American Indian Heritage Month
American History Essay Contest
Black Business Month
Cataract Awareness Month
Celery, Fennel and Cactus Month
Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month
Children’s Vision & Learning Month
Get Ready for Kindergarten Month
Golf Month
Happiness Happens Month
Motorsports Awareness Month
National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month
National Immunization Awareness Month
National Panini Month
National Minority Donor Awareness Month
National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month
National Runaway Prevention Month
National Truancy Prevention Month
National Water Quality Month
National Win with Civility Month
Neurosurgery Outreach Month
Orange and Papaya Month
Psoriasis Awareness Month
What Will Be Your Legacy Month
Weekly
International Clown Week: 1-7
Simplify Your Life Week: 1-7
Rock for Life Week: 4-7
National Farmers’ Market Week: 5-11
Assistance Dog Week: 5-11
Knights of Columbus Family Week: 5-11
National Resurrect Romance Week: 5-11
Exercise with your Child Week: 6-12
National Fraud Awareness Week: 6-10
Exhibitor Appreciation Week: 6-10
Psychic Week: 6-10
Single Working Women’s Week: 6-10
World Breastfeeding Week: 6-10
Sturgis Bike Rally: 6-12
National Hobo Week: 9-12
Elvis Week: 10-18
National Scrabble Week: 11-15
Feeding Pets of the Homeless Week: 12-18
Weird Contest Week: 13-17
National Aviation Week: 15-21
Little League Baseball World Series: 17-26
Minority Enterprise Development Week: 19-25
Be Kind to Humankind Week: 25-31
National Safe at Home Week: 27-31
Daily
1: Girlfriend’s Day
1: Lughnasa
1: National Minority Donor Awareness Day
1: Respect for Parents
1: Rounds Resounding Day
1: Spiderman Day
1: US Air Force Day
1: World Wide Web Day
3: Braham Pie Day
3: Watermelon Day
4: Coast Guard Day
4: National Chocolate Chip Day
4: National Mustard Day
4: Single Working Women’s Day
4: Social Security Day
5: Assistance Dog Day
5: Friendship Day
5: International Beer Day
5: National Kids’ Day
5: National Underwear Day
5: Sister’s Day
6: Hiroshima Day
6: National Fresh Breath Day
7: Lighthouse Day
7: National Night Out
7: Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day
7: Professional Speakers Day
7: Purple Heart Day
8: The Date to Create
8: Happiness Happens Day
8; Odie Day
8: Sneak Some Zucchini Onto your Neighbor’s Porch Night
9: International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
9: Veep Day
10: National Duran Duran Appreciation Day
10: Smithsonian Day
10: S’mores Day
11-12: Kool-Aid Day
11: Ingersoll Day
11: National Garage Sale Day
12: IBM PC Day
12: International Youth Day
12: Sewing Machine Day
12: Vinyl Record Day
13: International Left Hander’s Day
14: National Navajo Code Talkers Day
14: V-J Day
15: Best Friends Day
15: Chauvin Day
16: National Medical Dosimetrist Day
15: National Relaxation Day
16: Joe Miller’s Joke Day
16: National Airborne Day
17: Meaning of “Is” Day
17: National Thrift Shop Day
17: Men’s Grooming Day
17: Hug Your Boss Day
18: Bad Poetry Day
18: Birth Control Pills Day
18: International Geocaching Day
18: Mail Order Catalog Day
18: Serendipity Day
18: World Daffodil Day
19: Aviation Day
19: “Black Cow” Root Beer Float Day
19: Eid-Al Fitr
19: World Humanitarian Day
20: Cupcake Day
20: International Homeless Animals Day
21: Earth Over Shoot Day or Ecological Debt Day
21: Poet’s Day
21: Senior Citizen’s Day
22: Southern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day
22: Be an Angel Day
23: Day for the Remembrance of the Slave trade & Its Abolition
23: Valentino Day
24: Pluto Demoted Day
24: Vesuvius Day
24: National Waffle Day
25-26: International Bat Night
25: Kiss and Make Up Day
25: National Second-hand Wardrobe Day
26: National Dog Day
26: Women’s Equality Day
27: “The Duchess” Who Wasn’t Day
28: Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day
28: Radio Commercials Day
28: Crackers Over the Keyboard Day
29: According to Hoyle Day
29: International Day Against Nuclear Tests
29: More Herbs, Less Salt Day
29: National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day
29-9/9: XIV Paralympics Games
30: National Holistic Pet Day
30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day
31: Love Litigating Lawyers Day
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