Volunteer and Staff Recognition During a Pandemic



The phrase Thank You in cut out letters pinned to a cork notice boardFrom the Vermont Department of Libraries December 2020 newsletter

How can we show our appreciation and recognize efforts during this season of “Saying Thanks,” stay connected while distanced, and continue building essential relationships while gatherings are prohibited?

Even more importantly: How can we ensure that our method of appreciation/recognition will:

  1. be meaningful for volunteers, staff, and trustees,
  2. help them feel appreciated, and
  3. recognize the importance of their work to the success of the library?

Tips and ideas for recognition/appreciation during COVID-times:

If you are planning an online gathering, consider the following recognition ideas:

  • Share success stories (e.g., a volunteer, staff member, or trustee challenge that resulted in triumph)
  • Make space during your event for expressions of appreciation between volunteers, staff, and trustees
  • Mail a thank-you gift to each person with a note to keep it sealed until a specific time during the event when everyone will open their gift together
Volunteer recognition can be public or private and should be appropriate to the person and [their] contribution. Most of all, it should be honest and demonstrate some particular insight into what that person has done. (From Energize)

GetFullyFunded suggests starting with “The Basics”:

  • Handwritten notes with personal notes of appreciation
  • Homemade cards
  • Thank-you video thanking the volunteer for something they did
  • Phone call from a board member

Using your phone, capture a 30- or 60-second video message from one of your patrons thanking the volunteer, trustee, or staff member by name and sharing how their work has personally impacted the patron (From the Nonprofit Leadership Center).

Gather letters or video-messages of support from patrons and share those messages to celebrate the important work of your volunteers, staff, and trustees.

Other ideas:

  • Have an annual “Design the Volunteer T-Shirt” contest
  • Have a “Volunteer/Trustee/Staff Member of the Month” and post their personal story on your webpage or social media
  • Create special edition library swag only available to trustees, staff, and volunteers

Do you have other creative ideas for recognizing and appreciating your staff and volunteers during this time? Share them in the comments!

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