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Honoring the Girl Scout volunteer in your girl’s life

Submitted by Victoria Gigoux, Membership Connection Committee Member

Western Slope

Grand Junction

As Girl Scout volunteers, we are all aware of the countless hours of time we give to girls in Colorado and if you’ve ever asked “What’s the value of being a volunteer,” the answer just might surprise you!

According to Independent Sector, the estimated value of volunteer time, is just under $24.00 per hour. For many devoted volunteers, that could add up to a significant “gift” in a year, and much more sizeable over a lifetime.  Just as monetary donors get recognition for their generosity, so should volunteers who give of their time and talent, as well.

Do you have someone you need to thank?  Then, there’s no time like the present.  April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and while there are many options for formally recognizing and showing appreciation for outstanding volunteers who go above and beyond, in most cases, it’s simple peer-to-peer appreciation and genuine gestures that count the most.

A volunteer who feels they are doing a worthwhile job and feels appreciated for it, is more likely to continue to help out.  So, how can you express genuine appreciation to your volunteers, such as a co-leader, Service Unit Manager or Cookie Parent?  Although there are countless ways to say thanks, unless you have your own “Volunteer Appreciation Committee” (lucky!), it’s going to fall on you to keep your gratitude fresh and creative.

Here are ten ways to recognize, and show gratitude for, volunteers that you can incorporate into your menu of peer-to-peer kudos:

  1. Tell your volunteers frequently that they are doing a good job – Although you shouldn’t forget to come up with some creative ways to formally say thanks, don’t overlook the power of a simple THANK YOU!  This can be verbally, or a simple handwritten note.

  2. Thank You Box – Set out a box and index cards in a high traffic area. As people come and go, they can write a special message for the volunteer and put it in the box. Empty the box regularly and give these messages to your volunteer.

  3. Spread the word – Put message of appreciation and photos on your website, in a troop newsletter and/or post them on your social media.

  4. Remember holidays, birthdays and milestones – These are times volunteers will be likely be reflecting/thinking most on what they do and why, so let them know you are also thinking about them.

  5. Small Gifts of Gratitude – Who doesn’t like gifts? Even something as small as a $5 Starbucks gift card is appreciated.  It shows effort and lets the volunteer know you were thinking of them at a time outside of Girl Scout time.  Tight on funds….ask parents to donate to your “appreciation” fund or reach out to shops in your community – you never know what you can get at a discount (or FREE!) if you don’t ask.

  6. Share a Gift of Love – Ask those served, such as girls and parents, to make personal gifts. Art work, baked goods, poems, the possibilities are endless and a way to get girls and families involved.

  7. Go Out Together – Go somewhere together, where you aren’t doing your “job” but have an opportunity to build on your relationships. This can be something as simple as a pot luck or Leader’s Night Out. You know what will work for your group of volunteers,  just pick a date and go!

  8. Create a Scrapbook. Have co-leaders, parents, and girls write comments and quotes about the difference volunteers make and put them in a book. Add photos! If you aren’t crafty, there are many online places that can create wonderful keepsakes at reasonable prices.  This is an especially lovely gift for a volunteer who has reached a significant milestone, such as years of service.

  9. Send a letter of thanks and recognition to the volunteer’s employer. Do your volunteers work outside of volunteering? This is an excellent to show your volunteer you appreciate them and their time, especially when some of the donated time has been during regular business hours, courtesy of the employer.  It also speaks to the volunteer’s integrity and work ethic.

  10. Send a letter of thanks to the volunteer’s family – We all know how giving of our time affects the time we spend with our own families. Don’t ever neglect the family; this group of “forgotten volunteers”!   If a volunteer’s family recognizes the value of the time sacrificed, they are more likely to continue to encourage the volunteer to give of their time. And maybe, just maybe, you build on your volunteer pool!

Remember, recognition should be appropriate for the amount of donated time, the duties performed and the recipient’s unique personality.  And, don’t fret, it’s not the cost of the recognition that matters.  Don’t forget, in most cases, girls are who benefit the most from this dedication of time and should be involved in the process of showing appreciation.  So… get your girls (and families) involved, too!

Still looking for ways to show appreciation, there are other suggestions, resources and additional formal options too.  These can be found at http://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/en/for-volunteers/volunteer-appreciation.html

Want to know more about how to connect with the MCC?  Check us out on the GSCO website:  http://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/en/about-girl-scouts/membership-connection-committee.html

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