Awards for volunteerism often constitute a large part of plaque sales
for recognition and identification businesses. There are many types of
organizations that literally couldnt survive without the efforts
of volunteers. Honoring the men, women and children who provide support
is a responsibility that most organizations take very seriously.
group that utilizes volunteers is a potential customer for this type of
award. While numerous charities and service-oriented groups instantly
come to mind, many other less obvious organizations also rely on volunteers.
The majority of community groups, clubs, associations, civic and fraternal
organizations, etc., have members and officers who serve in a voluntary
the large number of groups that depend on the volunteer effort, there
is little wonder that awards for volunteerism are so popular. This type
of award serves a dual purpose. First, it allows the presenters to express
their appreciation for the many hours of dedicated service that have been
provided by volunteers. Secondly, such an award recognizes the recipients
valued contributions of time and energy to the organizations.
professionals are commonly looked to for advice on award messages. This
is especially true for plaques, where the messages tend towards length
and eloquence. Customers frequently have questions concerning appropriate
wording, layout and graphic design. And while you might want to offer
constructive and creative advice to every customer, realistically, time
constraints often hinder such efforts.
time and effort spent helping customers to decide on a message and layout
can be lessened with an award plaque message handbook. This is simply
a series of neatly drawn or computer rendered sample plaque layouts. Divided
into appropriate occasions, such a handbook provides customers with suggestions
and ideas for their own award.
for volunteerism are presented in a number of different situations. One
of the most frequent occasions is honoring a volunteer who has reached
a specific milestone. For instance, a local PTA may recognize a parent
who has served as secretary for five years. Or a charity such as Meals
on Wheels might choose to honor a volunteer who has delivered 1,000 meals
to senior citizens in the community.
events also bring opportunities for recognition. After a long and successful
fundraising campaign, for example, a public television station might wish
to present a plaque commending the director of the campaign. Or a childrens
hospital might recognize a local high schools senior class for their
volunteer efforts during an annual action project.
organizations present awards on a regular basis. For instance, a Volunteer
of the Month award is a popular choice, perhaps culminating in the naming
of a Volunteer of the Year. Named or titled awards are also presented
regularly, often once a year. These awards are usually highly coveted.
For example, a large charity might wish to recognize the one person who
has done the most to further the goals of the organization over the past
year. To accomplish this, they might establish an annual award named after
the founder of the organization, for instance, the C.G. Hunt Humanitarian
noted earlier, the number of organizations that utilize and recognize
volunteers is extensive. Service-oriented groups are the most obvious
examples. These include charitable organizations such as the Muscular
Dystrophy Association, The Salvation Army and The United Way of America.
large number of organizations provide services to the public at little
or no cost and, therefore, find it necessary to use volunteer workers.
Some examples might include an inner-city clinic, a homeless shelter,
a suicide hotline and an adult education program. In addition, community
groups such as the PTA or the local Historical Society frequently utilize
sector which uses volunteer workers almost exclusively can be referred
to as cause-oriented groups. This includes groups which are dedicated
to a certain cause. For instance, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
utilizes volunteer workers in its efforts to rid the streets of drunk
drivers. There are a large number of groups dedicated to various environmental,
political or social issues, most of whom rely on volunteer efforts.
other types of groups also benefit from the services of volunteer workers.
Various professional and trade associations count on members to serve
the organization without compensation. Community groups are another good
example, as are a host of clubs, associations and civic and fraternal
organizations. These range from the local Chamber of Commerce to a national
fraternity such as Phi Beta Kappa.
majority of these groups realize the great debt they owe to their workers.
Very few, if any, could survive without the efforts of volunteers. Because
workers are unpaid, plaques and other types of awards are one way that
these groups can express their gratitude.
award says to the recipient that the organization recognizes and appreciates
their efforts. Awards are also an excellent means of motivating both the
recipient and others who aspire to receive similar recognition. This type
of recognition can go a long way toward preventing the worker burnout
that sometimes occurs among volunteer workers. In addition, an award provides
the recipient with tangible evidence of a job well done.
message on a plaque for volunteerism frequently includes several key elements.
The names of both the presenter and the recipient should be prominently
featured. In addition, the name of the award or the reason for the award
is generally included. Some awards may also contain a date, such as the
presentation date and/or the year(s) or period of service. Another message
element is the location, e.g. the city, state or group. In order for the
various elements to form a coherent message, it is usually necessary to
include several descriptive or miscellaneous phrases like presented
to or in recognition of.
planning a plaque layout, you will want to consider the formality of the
message. Some organizations prefer a more formal tone and would opt for
the use of full names and perhaps titles. For example, a formal message
might read James Patrick Cooper or James P. Cooper rather than Jim Cooper.
On the other hand, many groups are less formal and would choose to use
an abbreviated name or nickname, e.g. Sue or Suzy instead of Susan. Check
with your customer to see what their preference is.
is another consideration when designing a plaque. Although humor isnt
often utilized for this type of award, it might be appropriate in some
circumstances. For instance, a local museum might want to honor a long-time
volunteer with a lifer award. If humor is appropriate, make certain that
it is used tastefully. The award should be representative of both the
presenter and the recipient. For example, hospital volunteer known for
his excessive use of puns might appreciate an award which utilizes this
type of humorous wordplay. Question your customer as to what might be
in good taste.
are a variety of other text elements that might be included on a plaque
honoring a volunteer. The motto or slogan of the organization presenting
the award is commonly included. A health care facility may want to include
their familiar slogan, Bay County Cardiac Institute At the HEART
of it all! Other options include appropriate poems or quotes.
addition to the text, a customer may want to feature one or more graphic
elements on their plaque. Graphic elements are a popular way to personalize
an award. They can add flair to plaques, make an award look especially
unique or convey the intent of the award instantly.
are among the most commonly featured graphic designs. An organizations
logo or emblem can provide instant recognition to anyone who sees it.
The Red Cross logo is widely known, as is the familiar red shield of The
graphic elements can be specific to an event. For instance, a basketball
plaque relief might be featured on plaques recognizing the volunteer coaches
of a midnight basketball league. Or, the design may be used only for a
particular award. A charitys annual Founders Award
might feature the likeness of the organizations founder.
are many general, multipurpose designs that could be suitable for this
plaque style. For example, a variety of stock plaque reliefs are available.
Appropriate designs might include a star, a light bulb or a gavel, along
with many others.
article has discussed the various elements and considerations of plaque
layout for volunteer awards. Many different types of organizations utilize
this type of plaque. Because this may be the only tangible benefit that
volunteers receive, most groups strive to make their awards meaningful.
You can help them achieve this goal by offering a sampling of layout ideas
for volunteer awards in your award plaque message handbook.
the examples provided in Figure 1 as the first page of the volunteerism
chapter of your handbook. Add your own unique and creative designs to
our suggestions. This handbook will prove to be an invaluable resource
to you, your staff and your customers. Be sure to watch for the final
installment in this series, Sports Awards, in the January 2004 issue.