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Energise your Volunteer Program – Valuing our Volunteers

This article in our series on Energising your Volunteer Program focuses on ways to show your volunteers how much you and the school community value them.

If your volunteers feel they are valued and respected members of your tuckshop team they will continue to give you their time and skills. You will have a happy and willing group of workers and you’ll also see an improvement in your volunteer retention rates.

Thank you noteVolunteer appreciation can come in many forms, including:

  • A simple verbal acknowledgement for great work.
  • A formal thank you note or email.
  • An organised event for your volunteers.
  • Awards ceremony during a school event or parade.
  • A promotion to a leadership position where they can assist new volunteers.

Showing your volunteers appreciation encourages a happy and productive work environment. As the convenor or manager, the volunteers need to hear “thank you” from you regularly.

Everyday acknowledgement

Here are some easy ways to acknowledge your volunteers each shift:

  • Create a climate in which your volunteers feel motivated.
  • Do not overwhelm your volunteers; give them tasks to suit their abilities.
  • Be appreciative of your volunteers’ contributions.
  • Give your volunteers a real voice within your tuckshop. If you have team meetings include your volunteers; ask for their input when planning a new menu.
  • Tell your volunteers they have done a good job and if they haven’t performed as expected tell them in an appropriate and confidential way and provide them with the guidance and support they need to improve their skills. Always avoid using harsh language.
  • Get to know your volunteers. Ask them how they are, show interest in their child/s activities.
  • Provide your volunteers with morning tea and lunch while they are on duty.

Sometimes when we are busy and overwhelmed in the tuckshop it’s easy to forget the little things, so remember to:

  • Be courteous.
  • Greet your volunteer by name.
  • Say ‘thank you’ often and mean it.
  • Always be honest
  • Make your volunteers feel good about themselves and the work they are doing.

If you would like to go the extra mile, there are many other ways to thank and acknowledge your volunteers:

  • If your P&C/P&F/school have the funds, consider having a tuckshop uniform e.g. a polo shirt in the school’s colours. This makes your volunteers and staff easily recognisable to the students and school staff.
  • Provide your volunteers with a name badge.
  • On Tuckshop Day each year give your volunteers a Certificate of Appreciation. Do this on parade – the students get a kick out of seeing mum or dad up on parade. 
  • Apply for a grant for a new piece of equipment to make your volunteers’ duties easier e.g. a commercial dishwasher. Involve your volunteers in the decision making process regarding the piece of equipment most needed. One of your volunteers may even by prepared to coordinate the application process.
  • Include a thank you in the school newsletter each week to thank the volunteers who have been rostered on. This is also a good way to remind the following week’s volunteers of their roster obligations.
  • Include a volunteer profile in the school newsletter or Facebook page. Remember to get the volunteer’s permission first.
  • Social outings are always a great way to get all your volunteers together to get to know each other. This could be done each term. The outings don’t need to cost your volunteers anything other than time, a picnic in a local park after school is a great way for your volunteers and their children to get to know other school community members.
  • Celebrate the end of the year with a gathering at a local restaurant.
  • Recipe swaps/demonstration. You never know what great recipes your volunteers may have up their sleeve. Ask them to bring along a favourite recipe that they think could work as a new tuckshop menu item. This is also a great opportunity to include multi-cultural members of the school’s community, it gives them the opportunity to pass on some of their cultural dishes and cooking techniques and it is a great way to gently introduce them into the school community. 

Volunteer Feedback

Asking your volunteers for their feedback is not only a great volunteer appreciation strategy, it also gives you valuable information on how your tuckshop is performing, how happy your volunteers are, and ways to make your volunteer program even more successful.

This could be done through a yearly volunteer survey.

Exit Interview

A volunteer exit interview will give you a better understanding of why your volunteer has decided to leave. Often volunteers leave because their child no longer attends the school, or they have found paid work; but there can be times when the volunteers leave because they are dissatisfied with their role

The information you gather will enable you to track trends and improve your volunteer program.

Questions you could ask could include:

  • How long have you been in the volunteer role? What type of tasks did you do? Generally, the convenor would know this information, but you may be new to role and not sure of the details for all your volunteers.
  • What did you enjoy about your volunteer role and the tasks you performed?
  • What didn’t you enjoy about your volunteer role and the tasks you were asked to perform?
  • Why did you decide to leave the role?
  • If the experience did not live up to the volunteer’s expectations, ask why; did the volunteer voice their dissatisfaction and what was done to assist the volunteer to better enjoy their role.
  • Did the volunteer feel that adequate training was provided. If not what other training and resources could have been provided.
  • Is there anything that can be done to improve the tuckshop’s volunteer program?

Volunteer appreciation can take many forms. At the end of the day, we want our volunteers to be happy and to feel appreciated and included in the tuckshop team. If you consider ways to better value your volunteers, they are more likely to keep coming back again and again, providing you with valuable assistance to make your tuckshop run smoothly and efficiently.

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