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How To Recognise Your Volunteers' Efforts

There are many ways to acknowledge your volunteers at a local level. It is easy to do within your club, both formally and informally, and there are various regional and national channels to help.

To provide more ideas the RFU has produced a downloadable booklet on How To Recognise Your Volunteers (PDF 1.8MB), offering further guidance on the best ways to do so.

A community rugby clubs needs a broad range of volunteering skills

Photo: RFU Archive

There are certain features which will help your recognition to be effective and be appreciated. Do it:

  • Frequently – Just at the end of a project may not be enough
  • Honestly – Tell the truth – they will know if you are insincere
  • Consistently – Be fair and consistent and make sure you thank everyone involved not just the key players or the ones you have the strongest relationships with
  • To the individual – Match the recognition to the individual. One person will thrive on being thanked in front of a crowd of people but the same would upset another. Make sure you know what motivates the person you are thanking
  • Appropriately – Make sure your thank you is appropriate. Be especially careful if the recognition costs the organisation money – some individuals may see presents as a waste of their hard earned work
  • In a variety of ways – Try to vary the ways you give recognition with lots of small touches regularly and the occasional big touch. It is a good idea to keep a note of any cards, certificates or presents given to a volunteer in the past, to ensure you don't send them the same thing twice.

Some internal ways of giving recognition include:

  • A verbal 'thank you' either one-to-one or in front of peers
  • A 'thank you' card
  • Club award selected by and presented in front of peers
  • Long service awards
  • A write up with in the local paper/club newsletter/match programme
  • Tickets for a match, including family members
  • Invitation to a club dinners or parties
  • Discount in the Club Shop
  • Branded items of club clothing
  • Help with funding appropriate training courses
  • Life membership of the club
Young leaders celebrate on an RFU course

Photo: RFU Archive

With more than 50,000 volunteers in the game, Constituent Bodies can have hundreds of volunteers in their counties. Many use some of their funding to acknowledge volunteers, so contact your local Rugby Development Officer [add link] to find out what is happening in your area.

Alongside the many RFU recognition schemes, there are a number of prestigious external awards to help. The RFU actively encourages clubs and constituent bodies to nominate volunteers for these prizes, such as the Whitbread Young Achievers in Sport, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award and the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

The British honours system – running for more than 650 years to be one of the oldest in the world – rewards individuals for merit, service or bravery and can be applied to rugby. It is easy to nominate as forms and guidance are available on their website.

Nominations must be supported by two letters of support as well as solid facts and figures to back them up. The process of verifying one of the thousands of cases received each year takes between 12 and 18 months to complete thoroughly, so start thinking today about the nominees of tomorrow.


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