A few weeks ago I was in Campbell River facilitating a workshop I was calling “Volunteer Recognition Unveiled”. I had tried to create a workshop title that would tip people off that volunteer recognition is so much more than sometimes they think it is. It’s so much more than the tiny gifts we buy them to thank them for their service.
Except it didn’t really work.
Oh, not the workshop, that really went well and I got good feedback. But I only had about ten people in the room and the room held more than 30. I came to the conclusion that one of the reasons why I didn’t get a full room was probably how I billed the workshop, that somehow with the title and “blurb” I hadn’t really done justice to the essence of what I was going to try to accomplish. That was, blow the door wide open on volunteer recognition and help people see how it’s woven throughout the entire volunteer management cycle; have exciting conversations about volunteer motivation and recognition and how we should fit tasks to organizational missions which should match volunteer motivation; encourage people to think that the best recognition we could give a volunteer is to create them the opportunity to do meaningful work.
We did have those conversations in the workshop and one of the highest compliments I got at the end of the workshop from one of the participants is that I really come across as loving facilitating, and that I’m good at it. It made me think of the blog post that I wrote about how a person’s eyes should light up when they talk about their work; mine certainly do. I wave my arms around explaining concepts and terms, talking with my hands, and my eyes flash with excitement. I laugh with the participants and crack jokes where appropriate. We have fun. (It’s a great topic to get excited about.) But we talk serious stuff too. Like, in that case, how all the things we do in the planning stage of the volunteer management cycle really set the scene to be able to recognize volunteers; creating effective position descriptions, for example, IS good volunteer recognition. How it’s important to think about the different generations of volunteers you have and create personal and individual opportunities for recognition. And how recognition is something that you do all throughout the volunteer management cycle, from your words of thanks to orientating people well to making sure you make time to have supervisory conversations with your volunteers. Everything that we talked about in the workshop really worked, but there just weren’t enough people in the workshop.
So what title would you put on a workshop that is about volunteer recognition being about so much more than we think it is? I don’t think “Volunteer Recognition Unveiled” hit the mark, even though I think the workshop itself really did help unveil some great ideas for people that day. I’m a word person but this time I need help with finding some words! I’d love to see your comments with your suggestions.