General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Should people who do volunteer work for an organization be thanked by the organization?

Asked by LostInParadise (27667points) December 15th, 2008

Your first inclination may be to say yes. I agree that volunteers should be recognized for their efforts, but why should they be thanked? If you volunteer to work at a hospital, why should some paid member on the staff be thanking you for your work? You certainly did not volunteer to contribute to that person’s salary. You volunteered because you believe in the work being done and because you wanted to support it. Presumably the staff member feels the same way, the only difference being that the staff member decided to make a career of it. I think that it is demeaning to be thanked by that person.

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18 Answers

binary's avatar

Yes and no.

Yes, because if the organization really wants volunteer work, a nice incentive can be the appreciate of an effort or job well done. And no, because people should volunteer because they want to help, not because they want recognition.

personally, I think someone should be thanked… however, it isn’t a required part of anyone, and volunteers have gone unthanked before!

Bluefreedom's avatar

Saying ‘thank you’ for just about anything is a kind and courteous thing to do. That would certainly apply in this case. I’ve never seen or heard of an instance where saying ‘thank you’ would be demeaning or inappropriate.

If I was working somewhere and a stranger decided to volunteer and help out and donated their personal time and efforts to do so, I would be very thankful for it and I would not hesitate, at all, to thank them for their contributions.

bythebay's avatar

I volunteer, a lot. I sit on several boards, volunteer at my kids school and for several other organizations. I expect nothing in return and yet I get notes; commendations; pen sets; plaques and other assorted gifts of gratitude. It is very nice to be thanked, but it irks me when they take funraised monies to buy thank you gifts and hold luncheons/dinners. Truth be told though, there are many volunteers that totally live for the pat on the back.

Judi's avatar

Aren’t you making their paid job easier by alleviating their work load a bit? I don’t understand being offended for being thanked. That’s just weird to me.
The only time I would be offended would be if the person doing the thanking had taken advantage of you all year and was only doing the thanking for some public display, to be politically correct. An insincere thank-you always makes me feel dirty.

augustlan's avatar

When in doubt, always say thank you!

LostInParadise's avatar

And just what constitutes sincere thanks. Suppose someone says, “And I would like to thank all the little people.” Is that sincere? Would it make things any better if after saying that remark, the little people were mentioned by name?

It depends to a large extent on who is doing the thanking.

Suppose, to continue the hospital example, the person chosen to thank you was a member of the janitorial staff. How would you feel then?

What it the person doing the thanking was doing the exact same work that you did, only the person does it full-time and suppose that you felt that your contribution was equal to or better than the other peron’s.

If the thank you came from the mayor or city council, that is an entirely different matter. These people represent the community, who are the ones that you performed the service for.

augustlan's avatar

If the work I was doing was helping the janitor out, I’d love to hear a thank you from him.

Judi's avatar

My mom was a volunteer at a hospital for several years. She had macular degeneration and it was taking her a little longer to do her job. The manager of the department did everything she could to make mom’s life miserable, because she didn’t think she was efficient enough. When my mom up and quit one day because she couldn’t take it any more the manager wanted to throw her a big party. My mom had worked at the hospital for 25 years and volunteered for 20 and the administrators all knew her. her desire to throw a thank-you was motivated by self interest and not personal gain. My mom chose to opt out of the party.

hypeserver's avatar

To answer the original question, I’d like to say that you should thank the people who volunteer for a company. Although you may feel like they shouldn’t be thanked for whatever reason, as humans we’re trained to do what society has taught us is right even if we don’t know why. “Monkey see, monkey do.” To answer the second question, a sincere way of thanking a group of volunteers is by putting it into something short, sweet, and to the point. Ex) “I’d like to that our community and for all the volunteers who helped make this day/event possible.”

susanc's avatar

I think there’s a specific story here that we haven’t heard.

LostInParadise's avatar

I tried to generalize from a specific example. I do think that there is a danger of demeaning the efforts of the volunteers if they are working primarily for the mission of the company and not specifically for the company itself.

Here in outline is what happened. It involves a non-profit organization with volunteers who work semi-independently. There is a position of volunteer coordinator. Part of the coordinator’s job is to fill in for and act in the same capacity as the volunteers. This coordinator is a warm and slightly eccentric person who has been with the company a long time and is much beloved by everyone. When she leaves she is replaced by someone with a college degree who is much younger and less mature and clearly lacking in the people skills of the previous person and seems, quite frankly, to be a bit full of herself. She is in an awkward position because she must deal with people who are free spirits and who have been with the organization longer than her. She thanks the volunteers for work done that includes the time before joining the new organiztion and makes no mention of her predecessor. My relationship to the company is tangential, but it seems to me that this new person is in danger of creating resentment with the volunteers.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Whoever you work directly for while volunteering should give you thanks because you’ve made his or her job easier. No more, no less.

Judi's avatar

@lost;
I see how this could be awkward for every one involved. Until the new person earns the respect of the folks she’s working with it is going to be tough. I also feel for her though. being the young newcomer trying to find her own place is a hard job. She’s not the old person and never will be. Change is difficult. Especially when the previous person is as endearing as it seems she was.

GAMBIT's avatar

“No good deed goes unpunished” but yes you should receive a thank you.

akmcg's avatar

The Thank you is an art and skill that every person should learn – and it seems to be a dying practice. I don’t know how many times people have been shocked to get a snail mailed thank you card from me, “how old fashioned!” they say. But they always appreciate it.
Yes, I do firmly believe that volunteers should be thanked for their work, but not on a daily basis. I think having an annual volunteer appreciation event is vital for every org that utilizes volunteers.
This is so key to retaining volunteers b/c it is connected to one’s motivations to volunteer. The main motivations are altruisitc and egoistic and almost every one, no doubt, has multiple reasons for donating their time. If a volunteer is made to feel like their actions are valuable to the organization and if they are treated well by the org, then they will form a “volunteer role identity” and a loyalty to the organization and thus will likely remain longer term. This is what every org wants b/c who wants to constantly deal with turnover and constant recruitment?
The simple thank you will help retain volunteers.

NVOldGuy's avatar

Why would anyone want to thank a volunteer? The most they do is make jobs easier. Fill in when things get busy or do small things to make people feel better. We shouldn’t let them know they are helping. They just might think they’re doing some good.

GracieT's avatar

I don’t volunteer just to be rewarded, but it is always nice to be thanked!

Sunshine1245's avatar

Of course it is nice to be thanked every now and again. But those who volunteer usually dont volunteer for recognition. Most volunteer out of the good of their own heart.

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