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Introducing our new Volunteer Recognition Scheme

We know that every day, across the UK, our volunteers are doing all they can to improve the lives of those affected by MS. We simply couldn’t do what we do without you. So, we want to recognise the difference you make – and to show our appreciation in ways which make you feel valued and motivated.

We learnt from feedback that our current methods of recognition are failing to connect with some volunteers. The time was right to take a fresh look at how we acknowledge and highlight commitment, achievement and successes.

What have we been doing?

Over the past year, we thought long and hard about developing a new concept for recognition, which would fit better within our culture and operational processes. We looked at what other charities do. And we involved volunteers and staff members from across the organisation (Community Networks, Helpline, Campaigning, Fundraising, Research, and others) in designing what we’re now calling our Volunteer Recognition Scheme. We’re very pleased to share it with you.

Some key principles of the scheme are:

  • Relevance – The scheme should be closely connected to our core mission and strategic goals.

  • Simplicity - We need to be able to recognise contributions in a quick and straightforward way.

  • Publicity - For the scheme to flourish, we need to ensure that all our volunteers are aware of it.

  • Inclusivity – The scheme must be appropriate and accessible for volunteers across the organisation in a wide variety of roles.

  • Outreach – We should use stories of volunteers’ successes and achievements more widely (eg on social media) to share best practice, showcase impact, and promote volunteering opportunities.

Impact Awards replace Shining Stars

For many years, our Shining Stars programme has awarded volunteers for ‘outstanding contribution’. But what does that actually mean? Instead, we’ll now look at how volunteer activities contribute to strategic areas of our work, and how they relate to achieving our mission.

Because we measure much of our success in terms of impact for our community, the replacement for Shining Stars will be called the Impact Awards. They’ll recognise what volunteers have achieved in all areas of our work. We can then start celebrating great examples of impact which show how we all work together to Stop MS.

Recognising length of service

We also want to start recognising how long our volunteers have been with us. So, we’ll be sending out messages to each of our volunteers at key stages and anniversaries of their volunteering journey, as a ‘thank you’ for their contribution and commitment. This will ensure that every volunteer receives a message from us at regular intervals, which we think is very important.

Annual Awards

As a cherry on our Volunteer Recognition cake, we’re excited to launch our Annual Volunteer Awards in 2022. This will be a virtual event, broadcast online to volunteers, supporters and people who live with MS. More details are still to come, but everyone who was awarded a Shining Star in the last few years will be considered for an Award during the event, along with those we hope will be nominated for an Impact Award (mentioned above).

Shouting out

Finally, we want to get much better at telling the world about volunteer successes and achievements - so everyone knows how great MS Society volunteers are, and can be inspired by examples of best practice. We’re hoping to launch a regular social media campaign to talk more about how volunteers advance our ability to support people who live with MS.

What’s next?

Look out for more information about the Impact Awards and the Annual Volunteer Awards, and for more volunteering stories on our social media.

If you have any questions, please contact the Volunteer Support Team on [email protected] or 0300 500 8084 (#3).