Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Styles, Project Specialist for the national Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program at the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
One of the many advantages of social media is being able to reach a large audience. With that large audience come unique opportunities to recognize your agency’s law enforcement volunteers. National Volunteer Week is April 21 through April 27, so now is a good time to think about thanking your volunteers. Volunteer recognition is essentially the paycheck your volunteers receive for the work they do. Thanking them for their time and accomplishments is essential to retaining a strong, committed group of volunteers. You can magnify the impact of the recognition via social media and getting the message out to their friends, neighbors, families, and colleagues. Recognizing your volunteers publicly has the side benefits of sharing positive stories about your agency with the community and inspiring new volunteers to get involved.
Here are some ideas to leverage your current social media practices to include volunteer recognition:
Share Individual Volunteer Stories
. Volunteers are motivated most by their desire to help their law enforcement agency and community. Your agency’s blog and Facebook page are great places to share stories about a volunteer’s specific accomplishments and how they impacted your agency. Consider inviting volunteers to contribute a guest blog post or featuring a volunteer interview to share the volunteer’s story in his or her own words, like this blog interview on the Santa Cruz Police Department Blog
Promote Volunteer Program Accomplishments
. Recognizing overall volunteer program accomplishments is important. Highlight the numbers of vacation home checks performed, victims served, or children fingerprinted. Multiply the number of hours volunteered by the value of a volunteer hour, currently $22.14. Concrete statistics like this can be shared on Twitter and Facebook to help promote the value of your program to your online community. To reach a wider audience, you can tweet your thank you messages with the official National Volunteer Week hashtag - #NVW2013.
Recognize Volunteer Skills and Expertise
. LinkedIn now offers the opportunity to endorse users for certain skills and expertise. Endorsing your volunteers for the skills they use in their volunteer work is a great way to show that you value their work. This can be particularly meaningful for your interns and young professional volunteers. (Read more about LinkedIn Skill Endorsements
Post Photos and Videos
. In the increasingly visual realm of social media, photos and videos are popular and easily shareable. Many programs have volunteer photographers who regularly document volunteer activities and are happy to share their photos. Create a Volunteer Program gallery or playlist on your Flickr, Photobucket, Pinterest, or You Tube page. You can post photos and videos of day-to-day volunteer activities, special events, interviews with volunteers, and thank you messages from staff. Spread the word about volunteer awards and honors with photos or videos. For example, the Cape Coral Police Department
posted video highlights from their recent 2013 Police Volunteer Luncheon on their You Tube channel.
As you begin generating social media content about volunteers, be sure to brainstorm ideas with your volunteer manager and a few key volunteers. They know the programs and volunteers best and are always happy to help shine the spotlight on the work they have done. For other volunteer recognition resources, visit the VIPS website – www.policevolunteers.org