Learning patterns/Appreciation of Volunteer Work I: Give Individual Feedback
What problem does this solve?
Volunteers are the heart of the Wikimedia movement, contributing to Wikipedia, Commons and other Wikimedia projects worldwide every day in many different ways. While not everybody might have the same reasons for doing so, we all have in common that we are driven by some sort of motivation. Without it, people would simply stop volunteering. This is why staying motivated is crucial. First and foremost, motivation comes from within oneself. There are also external factors affecting a person’s motivation - one important factor contributing to motivation is knowing that your work is appreciated and valued. And here’s where we can step in as volunteer supporters from Wikimedia organizations.
Let your volunteers know that you care about their work. This means that sometimes person-to-person communication is the key. But how do you do it? And how is this scalable for larger communities?
What is the solution?
In general, try to stay informed about the major ongoings in the Wikimedia projects you support, e.g. in your Wikipedia language version. Even if you’re not an active editor yourself, get familiar with the specific language and the most important codes your volunteers use in their work. This enables you to give feedback on eye level.
If you notice something a volunteer has achieved or is involved with, let him or her know. This does not only apply to big projects, it’s also for the every-day tasks your volunteers do. Send a quick e-mail or make a side remark in a phone call or meeting. You can also use the “thank you” function or write on talk pages, just be aware that especially the latter is public and might be considered as intrusion or favoritism.
Don’t try to monitor every step your volunteers make. Don’t even try to concentrate on a handful of selected very active community members. This won’t work (perhaps unless you don’t have anything else to do). However, it’s possible and worthwile even in larger communities to give individual person-to-person feedback from time to time. It makes a difference for the community as a whole because the community is a network of individuals and personal achievements.
Things to consider
- This may be a nice way to privately recognize those individuals that are shy of public recognition.
When to use
- Appreciation of volunteer work II: make it tangible
- Appreciation of volunteer work III: let others know
- Appreciation of volunteer work IV: towards a culture of appreciation