“How can we increase student volunteer engagement without just mandating more volunteer hours?” is a question that is often asked. While there are many strategies and tactics that can be tried, one simple answer to this question remains. Implement a recognition system.
You might be asking “what is a recognition system exactly?” Not to be confused with a reward system – one that provides a monetary gift – a recognition system provides acknowledgement and psychologic benefits to those who participate in volunteerism.
There are a variety of opportunities to acknowledge student volunteers for doing good. Many of them likely depend on a school’s budget and volunteer requirements. With this in mind, graduation cords, social media callouts, and awards can all be easily adopted by schools interested in boosting student volunteer engagement.
Much like the chords that honor societies and clubs use to adorn their members during graduation, schools can acknowledge student volunteers with special graduation cords to wear. This strategy is great for individual volunteer recognition and also increases visibility for volunteer programs to all that attend graduation, students and community members alike.
Another way to incorporate a recognition system is by acknowledging student volunteers and their organizations on social media. This strategy is easy to do and provides a great way to engage volunteers and potential volunteers at the same time. Make sure to tag your extraordinary volunteers, share the posts they tag you in and watch your online engagement grow.
Lastly, awarding volunteers is one of the most classic ways to recognize their service work. This can mean anything from awarding volunteers at a school function and at community events to allowing them to be school ambassadors within the community and much more. Don't be afraid to get creative – awards can be much more than a trophy or certificate.
The main point of a recognition system is to focus on the student volunteers and their great work. Everyone at every age enjoys knowing that their hard work is being noticed. When volunteers know they are being appreciated, it can motivate them to stay engaged and involved longer – and to get their friends and family involved too. Consider it a win-win for everyone!