Volunteering is awesome

I often get accused of using the word ‘awesome’ too much.

When describing volunteers, I struggle not to. Volunteers change the world. Volunteers save lives. Volunteers oversee our charities. Volunteers protect our communities. Volunteers do things that paid staff simply cannot do. Whatever you call it – social action, helping out, being civic or just doing stuff – it’s awesome.

This is also why I love Volunteers’ Week. It reminds us that the world is a much brighter place because fundamentally, people want to do good stuff for others. Just because they can. And Volunteers’ Week reminds us to appreciate this.

Volunteering for all

Volunteering is especially awesome as anyone can do it. Don’t believe me? Then check out our volunteering stories on the new Volunteers’ Week website. Our circumstances might get in the way of other stuff, but quite often it’s those circumstances that make us a great volunteer. Disabled? Sharing your experiences really helps those facing a disability for the first time. Feel too old? The world needs your knowledge and experience. Feel too young to volunteer? Well, you’re inheriting the world, so the world needs you to shape it.

That’s why this year, Volunteers’ Week includes a little reminder that volunteering really is for all. And when we thank and celebrate volunteers – that’s each and every one of them.

A volunteer campaigner with Arts Against Abuse

Recognition matters

It’s human nature to want to do good. But also to be reciprocators. Volunteers will happily give their time, but not if they feel used. And who would? We also know that the positive feeling around volunteering comes from when that good deed is acknowledged – recognition really does matter!

Recognition is a bit like baking a cake. Anyone can do it. From a simple sponge to a microwavable mug-cake it doesn’t take much. It’s the same for thanking volunteers. It’s easy to do, comes in all shapes and sizes, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like. It’s the thought behind it that matters.

Just like baking, you can also become super-skilled at volunteer recognition. In cake terms, we call these people bakers, chefs and patissiers. In volunteering, we call these people volunteer managers – people who understand the importance of recognition. Good volunteer management can really support us in making sure volunteers know how much they are appreciated – here are some tips that may help.

‘She’s Ready’, is a Sport England-funded project in Southend. Two hundred women who are experiencing life-changing circumstances and challenges will be empowered to undertake different levels of volunteering to increase physical activity in their community

You’re never going to harm a volunteer by thanking them

After reading this blog, thank someone. It only takes a few seconds and makes a real difference. Not sure how? Use #VolunteersWeek on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over the next week and you’ll get plenty of ideas. Some other good places to start are:

Start a new habit this Volunteers’ Week – saying thanks!

Recognition is for life, not just for Volunteers’ Week. But Volunteers’ Week is a great place to get into the habit of thanking volunteers for making the world a better place. It can be fun too – join our Twitter parties on 1 June and 6 June. See our events page for full details.

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Shaun is volunteering development manager at NCVO, overseeing strategy for volunteer management and good practice. Previously, he was head of volunteering at Samaritans and is currently a volunteer trustee of Greater London Volunteering.

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