Almost every volunteer management and project management guide lists celebration as a step to be implemented as a general practice. However there’s little direction provided as to what that means or what it looks like. Most guides tend to lump celebration in with reflection or volunteer recognition.
Reflection, recognition, and celebration are each steps that should be included in the organization’s general policies and procedures. Reflection provides volunteers with the time to assimilate the values of volunteering. Recognition is most often defined as “showing appreciation”. Recognition is often incorporated into a “celebration” meaning a program of some sort. But, celebration goes beyond showing appreciation and staging a program.
A study and publication by Blackbaud Company—“What Women Want–Understanding The Needs and Objective of Women’s Philanthropic Giving” (March 2009) lists “to celebrate” as one of the “Six C’s” of women’s motivation for giving. The study helped me define celebration as it links celebration to impact. Volunteers and donors want to celebrate the positive impact of their gifts and time. This correlates with the desire to serve others as impact clearly identifies and defines the results of the volunteers’ hours of service and donor’s dollar contributions.
Impact must be clearly communicated as volunteers and donors measure success not by numbers of volunteers or numbers of hours volunteered, but by the needs served. Linking efforts to impact can be included in the reflection done as a part of a event. It should be a part of any recognition activity or event. Regardless, building “celebration” in terms of communicating impact into volunteer management practices, project planning, and donor recognition is a necessary and effective practice. How is your organization building celebration into your policies and procedures?
Submitted by Sandra Miller, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader for the Volunteer Centers of Michigan.