It’s great to recognize individuals. But don’t forget that most of our volunteer efforts are, at heart, team efforts. So it’s smart to find ways to regularly celebrate, affirm, and recognize the volunteer ministry team as a whole.
A common approach is to plan an annual banquet during Volunteer Appreciation Week or at the end of your church year. You could make it a separate volunteer awards banquet or you could make it part of a larger service of worship and praise to God.
In any case, when it comes time to recognizing and affirm team members, be sure you’ve developed categories of excellence. Provide recognition for various achievements and outstanding works (make these honors real and deserved). If it’s a celebration strictly for the leadership team, then invite all team members and celebrate the completion of one or more particular projects. Highlight every aspect of the success, and recognize the contributions of each person involved.
If your leadership group is small and you want to be less formal, then simply plan a dinner (or breakfast) together. Make plans to highlight and celebrate team successes. You might also hand out mementos or small gifts, such as logo coffee mugs of gift cards.
Here are a few other ideas for volunteer appreciation and recognition for your team…
Start a Team Project scrapbook. Include memorabilia and photographs from special projects, events, and achievements.
Create a Recognition Sheet. Make it available for people to complete at any time. Leave space for the team member’s name, the date, and a brief explanation of how that team member had a special impact on the ministry’s success. Ask the person completing the sheet to sign it, and send it to the team leader. The team leader can then trumpet the accomplishments publicly.
Create an Affirmation Board. The same concept as above, but post the sheets of paper where everyone can see them. Ground Rule: All comments must be positive and affirming!
Schedule a team meeting as a “Surprise Celebration.” You’ve heard of a surprise birthday party? How about a surprise volunteer affirmation party? Fill the meeting room with balloons, and make refreshments available. Then celebrate all the good that’s been accomplished in the past month, quarter, or year. Be specific about what has happened, and who did what. Consider blending in a time of praise and worship to the Lord, who guided and strengthened everyone involved.
Hold a staff appreciation luncheon. Use the same time to say thanks and to recognize the volunteers’’ efforts. Fight the urge to conduct business.
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