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Better Impact's best list of awards for volunteer management professionals around the world
By: Pete Moody, Better Impact (UK Office) Jul 26, 2023 9:48:10 AM
There are some truly remarkable people in this world; you’ll probably know a few through your own personal and professional experiences. Some of these people you might label as volunteers going out of their way, above and beyond to make a difference – brilliant, truly remarkable. There is another type of person, sometimes behind individuals or groups of volunteers that often goes un-thanked and frequently appear off the radar of recognition. Sure, some get paid and are just doing their job right? A valid argument – but of those that have worked in the profession, it tends to become more than just a job and it tends to be more than just one job sandwiched between other jobs, other roles, and some weighty responsibilities.
We’re talking about Volunteer Coordinators, Facilitators, Managers (insert elusive title here). You know those people that get paid to chat, drink tea, eat biscuits, are commonly undervalued, often misunderstood and sometimes seen as a role that can easily be picked up.
This blog aims to share with you a variety of awards from around the globe that specifically recognise leaders of volunteers for their contributions to their profession, programs, organisation, and communities they serve, while illustrating the impact of providing recognition.
Why are awards for Volunteer Leaders important?
In Oprah Winfrey’s 2013 Harvard Commencement speech (20m 8s timestamp), she spoke about that one thing everyone is looking for as being some form of acceptance. People want to be ‘validated.’
Receiving that validation within our professional environment can be expressed in a variety of ways and by a variety of people both internal and external to our organisations. The impact of recognition, however, is profound.
Gallup’s article, “Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact,” suggests the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee’s manager (28%), followed by a senior leader or CEO (24%), the manager’s manager (12%), customers (10%), and peers (9%). In terms of the types of recognition most appreciated by employees, the top methods included public or private recognition (e.g. awards, certificates, praise), high-level performance evaluation or review, and promotion or increase in responsibility. All of these come ahead of any monetary recognition (e.g. pay increase).
It should come as no surprise then that acknowledging somebody’s efforts and achievements consistently goes a long way to ensure employees feel valued and that their work is part of the bigger picture.
As illustrated in Workhuman’s article, when recognition is done well, an employee is:
- Less likely to leave: 5x as likely to see a path to grow in the organisation.
- More satisfied: 44% more likely to be “thriving” in their life overall.
- More productive: 73% less likely to “always” or “very often” feel burned out.
- More engaged: 4x as likely to be actively engaged at work.
- More connected: 5x as likely to feel connected to their workplace culture.
The psychometric impact of this topic should be enough to have you thinking what your own practices are when it comes to recognition and or appreciation, no? Then consider how the cited research articles go on to suggest recognition should be more frequent and it must be: Fulfilling, Authentic, Equitable, Embedded in Culture and Personalised.
Is an annual award enough?
List of Awards
It is without further ado; I present a list of awards that you may or may not have heard of.
The list of awards is not exhaustive and focuses on volunteer management, programs and awards which recognise Volunteer Engagement Professionals, regardless of being paid or unpaid for their work. Please also note that qualifying criteria for awards can vary. Some may be organisation specific, require membership, and most require you to be working in the same country/locality where the award is offered.
Presented by The Centre for Volunteering to recognise a designated volunteer manager, a team of volunteer managers or a registered not-for-profit organisation.
Presented by Volunteering Queensland to recognise a volunteer manager (salaried or non-salaried) who has demonstrated outstanding best practice in the management of volunteers and the delivery of volunteering programs.
Presented by The Government of South Australia’s Department of Human Services to honour a volunteer manager for their outstanding contributions to the profession.
Presented by Volunteering Tasmania to recognise a stand-out volunteer engagement leader.
Presented by Volunteering Victoria to recognise an exceptional volunteer involving organisation that demonstrated overall excellence in making a significant difference for people, a community, group, or cause in Victoria. This award is not open for nominations. The recipient of this award will be selected from outstanding candidates in these other organisation award categories: Inclusive Volunteering Award, Volunteering Partnerships Award, Volunteering Innovation Award, and Grassroots Volunteering Award.
Presented by Volunteering WA to honour an individual volunteer manager (salaried or non-salaried) who has demonstrated best practice in the management and delivery of volunteering programs over the course of a year.
Presented by PAVRO (Professional Association of Volunteer Leaders – Ontario) to recognize and encourage excellence in the up-and-coming generation of leaders (aged 35 and younger) within the Volunteer Engagement profession.
An Impact Award presented by VMPC (Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada), and sponsored by Better Impact, to recognize Canadian volunteer engagement professionals who have been in the field for one to seven years.
An Impact Award presented by VMPC (Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada), and sponsored by Better Impact, to recognize Canadian volunteer engagement professionals who have been in the field for more than seven years and in recognition of their contributions to the field as mentors, leaders, trainers, and advocates.
Presented by TAVA (Toronto Association of Volunteer Administrators) to recognize and celebrate a volunteer professional, in the TAVA membership community, who has met the needs of their organization, engaged their volunteers in new ways, or offered support to the greater community.
Presented by PAVRO (Professional Association of Volunteer Leaders – Ontario) to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of volunteer engagement.
Presented by Volunteer Ottawa to a not-for-profit organization in the Ottawa region that has built a successful, thriving volunteer program based on excellence in volunteer management principles and practices.
Presented by Volunteer Ireland to recognise those who lead volunteers and manage volunteer programmes. Nominees can be in a paid or unpaid position.
Presented by Cardiff Third Sector Council (C3SC) to recognise a person that supports others to volunteer (e.g., volunteer manager, or anyone who leads a team or group).
Presented by Volunteer Edinburgh to recognise volunteering initiatives that improve equality and accessibility in volunteering. This may be down to creative approaches to reaching and recruiting volunteers; flexible and inclusive ways of engaging with and supporting volunteers or how you have shared these techniques with other organisations to improve volunteering for all. This specifically mentions that you may want to nominate your Volunteer Manager! Brilliant.
Presented by Volunteer Edinburgh to recognize a volunteer manager who makes an outstanding contribution to volunteering.
United States of America
Presented to a volunteer administrator or program, at the discretion of the National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) Board, for their work in the field of volunteer administration. Membership is not required.
An Impact Award presented by AL!VE (Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement), and sponsored by Better Impact, to recognize US-based volunteer engagement professionals with three to seven years of experience in the field, or have been significantly involved in education or research in the field of volunteer engagement.
An Impact Award presented by AL!VE (Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement), and sponsored by Better Impact, to recognize US-based volunteer engagement professionals with at least eight years of experience in the field, or have been significantly involved in education or research in the field of volunteer engagement.
Honors the outstanding achievements of a National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) member’s program in the creation and implementation of a program/service which utilizes volunteers to creatively serve both their local government and community.
Presented to a National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) member or non-member who has been in their position serving local government for three years or less.
Presented to a National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) member with qualities that include effective use of leadership skills, creative utilization of people/resources/opportunities, a strong sense of professional ethics, and an ability to mentor youth and/or peers.
Presented by National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) to recognize volunteer professionals or programs that have overcome great challenges (budget, staff, or leadership changes for example) and still found success.
Presented by Society for Healthcare Voluntary Leaders (SHVL) to recognize a volunteer services program for outstanding contributions and professionalism in the field of Healthcare Volunteer Administration, specifically those that have upheld high standards for volunteer engagement and effectiveness through a professionally managed volunteer program.
This award recognizes individuals new to the field of volunteer management making a significant impact on their sector and in the profession as a whole.
This award has been established to reinforce the importance of strong executive leader and volunteer program relationships. The award honors an Executive Leader who demonstrates a cooperative, supportive, enthusiastic and well-defined relationship with the volunteer program.
This award recognizes an individual who has made a superior contribution to furthering the culture and climate for professional volunteerism in Minnesota by developing an outstanding volunteer program and incorporating the essential elements of leading volunteers.
The award is recognition of excellence by the recipient’s peers. It honors a professional in the field of volunteer administration who demonstrates the vision, diligence, and commitment to service that are the hallmarks of professionalism in the field. The award recognizes contributions to the overall profession within and outside the recipient’s organization, including contributions over a period of time.
Presented by Metropolitan Volunteer Management Association (MVMA), criteria for this award specifies that volunteer management must constitute of at least 50% of the nominee’s job duties alongside recognizing an individual that has demonstrated volunteer program managerial excellence, continued commitment to volunteer engagement and has made innovations in the field.
Presented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to recognize a Zoo or Aquarium volunteer program that has shown the best ability to engage volunteers in the overall mission and operation of the organization. Nominations tend to close in June.
Presented by The Beryl Institute to recognize individuals who have demonstrated exemplary service and contribution to the profession of healthcare volunteer management. Specifically, anyone leading or impacting healthcare volunteer that can demonstrate leadership in advancing the practice of healthcare volunteer management through leadership innovations, the implementation of new programs, management, authorship, teaching and/or research in healthcare volunteer management.
Celebrated on November 5 each year, this day exists for, you guessed it, bringing recognition to individual managers of volunteers and their roles. It’s not an award, but it felt right to include it. Plus, it includes resources to celebrate the work of volunteer professionals in your area….what are you waiting for? 😊
So, after all that, will you be making the time to submit a nomination in recognition of a leader of volunteers? Or, have you been inspired to create a new award for this purpose?
If you’ve won an award for your contributions as a volunteer engagement professional, please share in the comments below.
Finally, I invite you to share with us any awards we may not have already included in our list and together we’ll build a centralised resource.
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