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Awards and Special Acknowledgment to Volunteers

Residents Recognizing Volunteers
At our Volunteer Recognition Appreciation Celebration each year instead of our volunteers being recognized by myself, each volunteer is introduced and recognized by a different resident explaining what they do and what they mean to that resident. This makes it more personal for our volunteers and our residents. They are then given a certificate with a picture of them doing their gift (singing, arts and crafts, calling bingo).
Submitted February 3, 2010 by Maria Allen

Seven-year Service Medal
The UN designed a volunteer medal for 2001 IYV. This should be modified and the year removed--in its place there should be a clasp for the organisation. Aand make it a seven-year service medal (the average time a volunteer spends in an organisation). As an incentive, this would be great.
Submitted on March 14, 2009 by Ned

A Round of Applause
We give our volunteers a "Round of Applause." It is a simple piece of paper, cut into a circle with a photo of the staff cheering that lists to, from, why and the date. Anytime, we want to say thank you to a volunteer we give them a "round". After a person collects 3 of them, they turn them in for a prize, usually donated gift card, gas card, etc. This lets us acknowledge their support on an onging basis.
Submitted on December 9, 2008 by Myra Wooten

Thankfulness Poster
At Saint Marys Hospital/Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN we gave a blank piece of poster board to each of the areas where we had staff working directly with volunteers about a month before Thanksgiving. We asked the staff to create a "Thankfulness" poster for the volunteers on their service. We then posted them in the volunteer office during the week before and after Thanksgiving. It was great to see the creativity of the staff and hear the expressions of surprise and gratitude for the thoughtfulness from the volunteers as they looked at them.
Submitted on November 4, 2008 by Susan Webster Pronk

Ears to You!
We have a volunteer mentoring program, for kids ages 16-21, supervised by the Probation Department. At the end of the 10 week program, we like to present a small token of our appreciation to the volunteers. I found large plastic ears, that fit over an ear, and attach a note that says "Thanks for listening!!!" They love it.
Submitted on September 3, 2008 by Patti Cushingberry

Volunteer Photo ID Contest
We took pictures of ten volunteers and posted them as the background on all of the computers in the hospital during National Volunteer Week.  We held a contest to see which employee could name the greatest number of volunteers.  The staff member received a $50.00 gift certificate and the volunteers had a lot of fun with the staff all trying to find out their names and engaging in playful conversation. 
Submitted June 2, 2008 by Maureen Bednarek

Photo Banner
Last year I took pictures of all my volunteers. I scanned them onto my computer and printed them onto iron-on transfer sheets. I then pressed them onto a cloth patch and we sewed all the patches together to make a banner which is now hanging in our store.
Submitted June 15, 2007 by  Sheila Friesen

"Post-It" Recognition
One year our church held a volunteer recognition service. After the appropriately themed sermon we played "The Way You Do the Things You Do" while members of the congregation listed volunteer tasks on post-it notes and then posted the notes on the volunteers who had done the tasks. After a few minutes no one was free of post-it notes (except for one lady whose dress material would not hold anything!)and some people were completely plastered with them. The event became fairly raucous and the response was generally favorable. There were numerous comments about this being the only non-boring volunteer Sunday service we'd ever had.
Submitted April 9, 2007 by Molly Anderson

"The Golden Plunger" Award
We wanted to create a humorous but honorable award for "that individual" who is kind of a jack of all trades...or the one you find does all the hard work that others don't line up to do. It is "The Golden Plunger" award. You just get a new toilet plunger at the store, spray paint it gold, and then write something on"Someone's gotta do it" (or something like that), along with the person's name.
Submitted February 2, 2007 by PC Walker,

"The Super Supervisor"
In the past, I began a recognition program with supervisors at team meetings called "The Super Supervisor" award. It involved a silly cape with a Superman-like S in the centre and a trophy. It was a non-confrontational way to encourage staff to set a good example
for others in working with volunteers, and became something staff looked for.
Submitted October 4, 2006 by Erin Spink, Volunteer Development Coordinator, Canadian Cancer Society

"Priceless" Volunteers
I recently did our annual volunteer banquet which the theme was "You're worth your weight in Gold." Everything was centered around money. We had a 1" dowel rod cut in thin pieces, spray painted them gold and scattered them on the table to represent coins. Had paper cut in the size of dollar bills, the top piece of paper was printed as a dollar bill with different volunteers pictures in replace of George Washington. (The pieces of paper underneath were left blank.) We then cut strips of paper around them to band them together. We spray painted bricks gold to represent gold bars. We set them on the table and there were stacks of them on the backdrop. We had bags made out of cream color burlap type material, filled with shredded paper, tied with gold cord from the fabric dept. and painted a gold dollar sign on the side. These were in the center of each table as our money bags.
Submitted June 29, 2006 by Teresa Severs

Hawaiian Lei Rotating Award
As a not-for-profit volunteer agency, we have limited funding available for recognition, although we have so many volunteers who are deserving. I have a group who works together on a regular basis and meets monthly. At each meeting we pass around an award that is an inexpensive hawaiian lei. It is an inexpensive way for individuals who work as a group to recognize each other. For example, one month it is the "Jane Doe Award," where Jane Doe decides whom she would like to recognize. The following month it becomes the award granted by the last recipient. It is a fun way to build a team and let others help recognize each other. Our group greatly enjoys it!
Submitted May 23, 2006 by Melissa Axley

Oscar Night
Last year for my Girl Scout leaders we had an "Oscar Night" and each leader was awarded an "Oscar" for her hard work. The "Oscar" was a votive candle turned upside down with a pom pom for the head and googly eyes. I then used pipecleaners for arms. My leaders loved them!
Submitted May 3, 2006 by Valerie Hamilton

Above and Beyond
Every year The Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 233 District 23 pays tribute to someone in the community who goes beyond volunteering. Last year we honored the Banning & Beaumont Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. This year we pay tribute to two members who volunteer a lot at the Jerry L. Pettis Hospital in Loma Linda.  They are at the VA hospital just about every day.
Submitted February 9, 2006 by Pam Maguire

Awards from Other Organizations
Some communities give out service awards to volunteers. I recently became aware that in Pierce County, WA, the United Way gives out "Green Feather Awards" to individuals who volunteer over 100 hours a year. Several of our regular volunteers received a certificate (complete with the number of hours they volunteered) and a nice lapel pin. I thought this was a great idea for regular volunteers! Try the United Way, the local parks administration, the city offices, established service clubs (Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis), etc. to find out if such an award is available in your community. It's really suitable for volunteer interns (who often rack up hundreds of hours over several months) and for college students, who can list the community award on their resumes!
Submitted May 7, 2004 by Shaundar Bradbury, Visitation Specialist, Methamphetamine Family Services, Pierce County Alliance WA

This works well for organizations where large numbers of volunteers come to a single location. Using 4 inch white paper doilies, we put the name of every volunteer on their own "Snowflake" and hung them from the ceiling of the volunteer lounge. We added a poster that said "Just as every snowflake can add up to a blizzard, so every volunteer's contribution adds up to a storm of activity here. Thank you for your dedication". This created a lot of fun as each volunteer looked for their snowflake and also impressed staff and visitors with the extent of volunteer involvement here. This could be adapted for other seasons.
Submitted April 2, 2004 by Shelley Malyk, Volunteer Services Coordinator, St. Amant Centre, Manitoba

We Mint to say Thanks!
I bought a package of Lifesaver Mints and put them in a bowl on the table where most of the volunteers eat lunch. On the bowl I put the sign: "We Mint to Say Thanks!" It was well received and was an easy way to show appreciation for our volunteers.
Submitted February 13, 2004 by Rosie Van Cleave, Volunteer Coordinator, La Plata County Humane Society CO USA

Volunteer Tree
We created a Volunteer Tree. Every year we hold a Festival of Trees, that takes an incredible amount of volunteers to put on. So before we kick off the Festival, we hold a Volunteer Appreciation night. To recognize our volunteers, we took a picture of each one of them with a digital camera. We then printed them out with a color printed and cut them out into different shapes for the Christmas tree. We put a little glitter around the edges and then hung the pictures on a 9' Christmas tree for all visitors to see at the Festival to see. We called it our Volunteer Tree. It was a big hit with the volunteers and you would catch them looking for their pictures and sometimes even moving them to a more prominent spot on the tree.
Submitted January 24, 2004 by Janice Sander, Executive Director, Battlefords Union Hospital Foundation, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada

Volunteer Hall of Fame
Honorees include founders of local nonprofit organizations in 12 distinct categories of voluntary activity.  The L.I. Volunteer Hall of Fame was created by a coalition of local agencies and grew out of local efforts to celebrate IYV2001. 
Submitted October 14, 2003 by Frank Pomata. Contact: Diana O'Neill at Long Island Volunteer Center, NY 516-564-5482

Volunteer of the Month
We have a "Volunteer of the Month" as a way to recognize our volunteers all year versus at the end of the year. We ask the school families to send in nominations of volunteers that are going above and beyond or a person that is a behind the scenes person for that month. They get recoginized in the area that they volunteer in be it a classroom etc. They are honored in front of the people that they volunteer for. We take their picture and it goes into a frame on the wall and then they are recgonized in the school weekly newsletter. We find we can recognize more people this way and in a more timely matter. Next year we are thinking of having grade level recgonitions as well to include more volunteers.
Submitted April 22, 2003 by B Schick, PTA Pres., Hollywood Hill Elem., Washington USA

Celebrating Volunteers Down Under
The Royal Australian Mint has released a series of 2003 commemorative coins to celebrate the work of Australia's volunteers. They can be viewed at the Mint's web site at As the Mint says: "Brimming with the spirit of mateship and goodwill, this wonderful memento is a fitting tribute to the many unsung Australians who do credit to us all."

Get Caught Smiling
During the month of November, every time a staff member catches a volunteer smiling and enjoying what they are doing, they congratulate them, and give them a "Happy Face Sticker," for their nametag. As an added bonus, the volunteer is entered into a drawing for a dinner for four donated by a local restaurant. The volunteer with the winning ticket will be drawn at our annual Holiday Appreciation Dessert Buffet in early December.
Submitted November 14, 2002 by Brian Probst, Manager of Volunteer Services, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, California, USA

Asking Their Pastor to Present Award
For a recent volunteer planning council (for a regional church's youth event), I sent the volunteer's Certificate of Appreciation to their senior pastor asking the pastor to publicly present the certificate during a worship service or board meeting. That way, the volunteer is recognized in their home community AND their church then know about their involvement AND the event receives a "good-will" announcement to be remembered the next time volunteers are needed!
Submitted by Kirsten D. Nelson, Director of Leadership Development, Central Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, Illinois

Row of Honor
Originally our "Service in Excellence" award which is given to an individual who contributed above and beyond regular service duties was recognized at our annual celebration with a special pin and notice in the local media. But an even greater recognition was offered by one of our local banks. They offered to plant a tree on the hospital grounds for each of the awardees. The first year eight trees were planted for the first recipients. Now, each year another tree is planted in the "Row of Honor" which is becoming a lovely garden next to the hospital. Each tree has a plaque with the volunteer's name and year of recognition. This business recognition of our volunteers now highlights our program to the community on an ongoing basis.

Submitted by Wanda Llewellyn, Director of Volunteer Resources and Patient Relations, O'Bleness Memorial Hospital

Kudos Korner
Our Kudos Korner is one of the most prominent and inexpensive ways for which we recognize staff and volunteers. These forms are available at each event and are filled out by someone who notices another's outstanding achievement. Some include: "Making Festival a joy to volunteer for," "Consistently being available for any type of work," "Smiling on the phone on the busiest day of Auction." Kudos are displayed at the event and are listed in our quarterly volunteer newsletter. Submitted by Victoria Evangelista, Volunteer Coordinator, Rocky Mountain PBS

Outstanding Service Award
This award was the idea of one of our volunteers who chooses not take sole credit. Each year around January, volunteers and staff are asked to submit nominations for this award, which is presented on or near Valentine's Day. The award, now in its fifth year, is given to a staff member and volunteer who give outstanding service to Rocky Mountain PBS, give unselfishly of time and energy and are always there to help; those who give "from the Heart." These are people who are not highly visible, such as Committee Chairs, etc. Flowers, heart-shaped cookies, red and white balloons and a card (embedded in a plaque--new this year) are presented. A photo and brief history of each person is read to the group and is front-page news in the March issue of Volunteer Vision (our quarterly volunteer newsletter) and is included in Promo (our member program guide). In 2001 the ceremony was videotaped to produce an on-air spot. Nominations are open to all Rocky Mountain PBS staff and volunteers. As Jane Owen put it last year, it is a very short, sweet and touching ceremony and it will be must do on James' calendar. It truly is a very wonderful honor for all involved!

Submitted by Victoria Evangelista, Volunteer Coordinator, Rocky Mountain PBS

Namesake Awards
In our all-volunteer organization, one of our more special methods of recognition is to name awards after long-standing, stellar volunteer role models. Additionally, we have a 'batch' of volunteers that enter our organization together, during specific times in the year. These groups are usually 'named' after an extraordinary volunteer; a namesake, if you will. Part of this groups orientation then includes information about this individual, and if possible, the honoree also addresses the group.

Submitted by Tanya K. Refshauge, Region IX Director, Alpha Phi Omega, National Service Fraternity (collegiate, co-educational, community service organization)

Honoring Those Very Special Volunteers
We tried to send a response to this e-mail but received an "address unknown." So it occurred to us, why not post it! I really appreciated your recognition ideas, and am hoping you can help me a little further. I work in the Minnesota Zoo's volunteer department and several of our volunteers are about to pass the 20 year milestone. We're looking for a great gift item for them for under $40. Do you have any ideas? What do other agencies do? Any ideas would be helpful. Here are some responses: Can you dedicate an exhibit that started when they did? Or make a "Walk of Fame" and put their names on bricks? How about choosing 20 long-lived animals and naming them for the volunteers? Plant a tree in an exhibit and create a "Grove of Volunteering". Dedicate part of your re-education area in their honor and put up a plaque with their names listed. It's SO EASY when you start looking inside the organization - after all, they've spent 20 years working for the zoo, what better way to reward them than to make them truly a "part of it" by dedicating something in their honor? (P.S. Also cheaper than finding a gift that's appropriate, cheap, and suits the organization's mission too!) It's always easier thinking up ideas for someone else's programs!

Submitted by Lacretia Bacon, Volunteer Coordinator, City of Phoenix - Human Services Dept.

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