The Volunteer Journey is our unified take on volunteer development and engagement. For the past months, we have been reviewing the ways we adapt it to a COVID-effected world. The pandemic changed a lot, but the importance of feedback and recognition in any volunteer-based organization is unwavering.

Feedback allows for development

A structured feedback system allows us to engage in continuous learning and improvement as an organization. Feedback is a two-way street and relies on open communication. A positive organizational culture provides a safe space to be imperfect and learn from our mistakes.

Giving feedback is not always an easy task. It has to be well-timed, well-intentioned and delivered in a form that suits the recipient.

While feedback on an organization-individual level is important, it is just as crucial among peers. In AFS, interpersonal cooperation is constant. Therefore, we all have to be able to give constructive feedback. A feedback training can help ensure that each volunteer and staff member in our organization masters these skills.


The Recognition stage of the Journey helps us understand how to make volunteers feel appreciated and recognized for their commitment to AFS. How visible one’s engagement is, varies. Some volunteers will take on roles that make their contribution instantly noticeable. Due to doing much more ordinary, but yet just as important work, some others often go unnoticed. We need to make sure to include recognition and appreciation practices in our daily operations.

There is a difference between recognition and appreciation. Recognizing a volunteer can give them a sense of accomplishment and successful closure. It can also show perspective to their less-experienced peers. On the other hand, appreciation is a lot more implicit. It comes with the practice that we notice each other as humans, for who we are, for what we are going through. Whilst it might seem challenging at first, simple acts of human kindness and consideration can go a long way in making someone feel appreciated.

There are many ideas out there, both in and outside AFS that can inspire you further.