Are today's volunteers' interested in being recognized on social media?
Many volunteers today are not looking for the traditional recognition that organizations or communities used to host. The year pins, certificates or plaques, and major award ceremonies are still appreciated by some, but the majority believe that this isn't the most valuable way to recognize and they also question the amount of time and money put into such events.
In the 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study 80% of volunteers stated that they would prefer to be recognized by hearing how they have volunteered is making a difference. While 70% of volunteers did say that they would prefer to have this recognition in person on an ongoing basis, this is not always possible for organizations. The vast majority of volunteers engaged with where I work are virtual, short term, or in a community where we don't have any staff. Therefore reaching out through social media might have a similar effect if used appropriately.
Some guiding principles that I would suggest:
- recognize volunteers in a timely manner
- try and tag them in the posts so that they are aware of them
- state why their work is making a difference to the organization
- don't replace all recognition with this method, but use it as an additional source, which can replace some of the more traditional gifts, pins etc if appropriate
While this type of recognition isn't for everyone, those that aren't on facebook, twitter etc should continue continue to be recognized through more traditional methods, it can be used for a large population of volunteers.
Benefits to the organization
Using social media to recognize volunteers should be planned with volunteers at the heart of the reason for each post. However there are many benefits organizations may receive as a secondary response to this type of post.
These may include: