Blog Article #2 - “What’s Holding You Back From 21st Century Recognition Strategy?” 

Post Last Updated: 2 years ago

Recognition is a critical component to your volunteers’ engagement, and the impact volunteers generate for your Volunteer-Supported Organization (VSO).  Innovative volunteer Recognition practices are key to achieving high-quality results.  Knowing that, why are you still doing the same old, tired thing for volunteer Recognition when it’s not producing the results your organization desires?

That’s What She Said . . .

You could be crazy.  Insanity is often characterized by the saying, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  But I believe that LoVEs are not insane . . . well maybe . . . but rather, fearful. 

Making a significant change in your volunteer practices is scary, especially when attempting something new and innovative.  As this series of articles explores the “reasons” given by LoVEs why they do not change their volunteer Recognition patterns, I believe that fear is the underlying problem.

What’s there to be afraid of?  A lot, right? 

The most obvious fear is the Fear of Change.  Change means that something will be different.  Different means there is an unknown.   The unknown causes many to be anxious, apprehensive, and cautious, resulting in stagnation.  A stagnant volunteer Recognition practice may be “nice,” but it is not resulting in highly satisfied, engaged and sustained volunteers. The unknown is where opportunity and potential exist. 

The Fear of Change is often linked to a Fear of Risk.  Risk by its very nature is uncertain.  Because it is uncertain, a loss, or something bad happening, is at the heart of this fear.  What is often overlooked is, uncertainty can also result in a gain, or something good happening.  Risk is just as likely to have a positive outcome.

The Fear of Risk is often linked to a Fear of Judgment.  The concern of what your volunteers, decision-makers, colleagues, the Board of Directors, and community will think about a change in your volunteer Recognition practices is scary.  Imagine, instead, what they will think when your courage to change your volunteer Recognition strategy brings unprecedented outcomes for all involved!

The Fear of Judgment, Risk and Change all have one common fear—the Fear of Ability.  You may worry if you have what it takes to accomplish something better.  Do you have the skills, the resources and the courage to make an innovative change to your volunteer Recognition efforts? 

From my experience, LoVEs are some of the most creative, resourceful and heroic individuals I have ever met.  I think you’ve got this.  More than you think you may.    

Conquering your fears enables you to bring new life to your volunteer Recognition work. You can achieve greater results.  You can generate greater volunteer passion and engagement. Maybe even inspire potential financial giving.  Your organization can have the volunteer program you always imagined.  You can bring deep fulfillment to your volunteers, and greater impact for your organization and its causes and beneficiaries.  You can reach greater accomplishment for yourself.  But only . . . only IF you conquer your fears.

So stop being a scaredy-cat.  Squash all your fears.  Change.  Risk.  Judgment.  Ability.  All four of them.  Become a fearless LoVE Superhero!

That’s What He Said . . .

Oh yeah, Linda, those fears you mention are real.  No doubt.  Yet I look at this abomination of tired volunteer Recognition practices by LoVEs across the nation and around the world as a serious leadership performance shortcoming.  And to address that, I pull an excerpt directly from the book, Engaging the Head, Heart and Hands a Volunteer.  The words are below: 

“The framework for diagnosing performance problems of paid professionals has been available to leaders for nearly fifty years.  Dr. Robert F. Mager and Peter Pipe first developed and published the Performance Analysis Flow Diagram in 1970.  This simple model offers a systematic process for troubleshooting performance problems.  The flowchart has served as a guiding source for the work of human performance technologists and leaders across the globe. 

Wait.  Who?  What?

That is exactly the point.  The resource developed by Mager and Pipe is an example of brilliance of which most people have never heard.  This tool could be and should be used by every person who leads others in a for-profit environment (and non-profits, too!).  But it’s not.”

With great honor to Mager and Pipe, here is the deal.  There are only one of three reasons, or a combination of these three reasons, why you, the LoVE, have not progressed in your strategic Recognition repertoire: 

- The Don’t Know Factor

- The Can’t Do Factor

- The Don’t Care Factor

Need I explain these in any greater detail?  I shall not condescend. 

And, it is now up to you to figure out which one of these is working against you as you attempt to step into the 21st century with your Recognition efforts. 

Not an easy thing to do.  Self-awareness and introspection are not for the faint of heart.  To place yourself under the microscope.  To look within to gain a greater understanding of what makes you tick . . . and what inhibits your growth . . . takes courage.  Some serious conviction, yo’. 

Maybe now is the time to remove the blinders to see the possibilities for your future.  And the future of your volunteers.  Don’t Know?  Can’t Do?  Don’t Care?  A combination?  Which one is you?   

Perpetual self-analysis.  An honest look inside.  It is simply what a leader does.     


About the Writers . . .

Celebrate Volunteers, founded by Linda Llewellyn, provides a showcase for non-profits, schools, civic and religious organizations and corporate employee groups to thank, appreciate and recognize their volunteers by sharing the story of who they are and the impact of their service. We provide a spotlight of honor where volunteers shine.  To learn more, visit

Head, Heart and Hands Engagement Collective was inspired by a simple notion:  Leaders of Volunteer Engagement need help.  They benefit from guidance.  They deserve support.  They require resources.  They must be provided professional development to be prepared to create meaningful, fulfilling experiences for volunteers who serve alongside their organization.  And, Barry Altland applies his nearly thirty years of leadership development expertise to offer that, and more, to LoVEs.  See it all at .

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