Awards vs. rewards

What’s the best way to show your thanks to your members for the invaluable services they provide? This question has more than one right answer. Having a good mix of formal and not-so-formal ways of recognizing individuals and committees will give you the freedom to pick the most fitting and most effective expression of gratitude for the situation.

Awards: Formal member recognition
Awards are the more formal tokens of appreciation, usually publicly presented. They can be tangible gifts like a framed group photo from the event a member coordinated, or a certificate, pin or clothing item from the Kiwanis Store presented as an enduring memento of the club’s appreciation. Present these items at a club meeting or public event and consider notifying the newspaper, radio or television media, if appropriate.

An event can also fall into the award category, like annual award dinners or a celebration at the end of a successful fundraiser. An event-type award honoring a group contribution can be a good bonding tool, giving team members a chance to show mutual appreciation and recognize individual efforts in reaching the goal.

Rewards: Informal member recognition
Rewards are the more intangible day-to-day activities of recognition and motivation that are given to individuals to encourage them and to acknowledge their contributions. As such, rewards tend to be less formal, more private and more personal. Informal methods of recognition can be overlooked in place of more formal methods, yet are often the most effective and longest lasting in terms of motivation. A simple yet personally delivered “thank you for your help” is always well received and demonstrates personal appreciation. Other informal methods include mentioning the member’s name and contribution during the club meeting or in a club newsletter. Even giving a successful leader more responsibility serves as recognition of a job well done.

Get inspired by some of these creative ideas for awards and rewards.

“You might be amazed to learn how far a Kiwanis pencil and a lavish word of praise will take you. I went from being a nondescript club member to a full-blooded Kiwanian in the space of one 30-second unexpected recognition.”

Roger Deem, past lieutenant governor for Division 29 of the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District and Kiwanian since 1995