Volunteer Awards Part 2: Incentivise, incentivise and reward [Momentum Metropolitan Case Study]

Building a foundation of community, a culture of volunteerism, and a company that recognises inspirational employees

In Part 1 of this series, it was revealed that the first incarnation of Momentum Metropolitan’s volunteer awards programme, the Lesedi Awards, had only managed to get 25 people to attend its award ceremony. It was an uncertain start.

But it was only the beginning of something remarkable.

Charlene Lackay, the Group CSI Manager at Momentum Metropolitan, and her team didn’t even think to stop at this first hurdle. They went on to create a highly successful event that has people vying for a chance to attend – or even just be nominated.

There were several challenges that had to be overcome as the awards evolved. The first was to encourage people to admit that they volunteered in the first place.

Quite a few people didn’t want anyone to know that they did volunteer work.

“We did surveys to gather insights into what our volunteers needed to incentivise them” says Lackay. “We realised that they were more likely to come forward with their contributions and to actually become engaged in volunteering if they had the opportunity to increase their contribution to the NPO they supported.”

The result was an incentive-based programme that has delivered exceptional results.  The volunteers who win first, second and third place get a significant sum donated to the charity of their choice. The amounts have increased each year and in the second year, smaller donations of R5,000 were added to the pool, incentivising all shortlisted volunteers instead of just the winners…

“This money may not be a lot, but it’s incredibly empowering for the volunteer, for the person who can donate this money to something that they value,” says Lackay. “Not many people have this kind of money to donate personally and being able to do so with money from your employer is quite a powerful thing.”

Inspired by the incentives, the volunteers started to go from a trickle to a pour and it was time to look at the judging panel and the mechanics of the awards themselves.

Building a lit volunteer programme // The Lesedi Awards Part 1

Finding balance

“The quality of the judging has evolved alongside the quality of our volunteer work,” explains Lackay. “At first it was an internal judging panel that followed a stringent advisory process but then we put even more distance between us and the judging by using experts and leading organisations such as forgood. In addition, our internal auditors verify the entire process to ensure its above board.”

In 2019 the judging panel was made up of some of South Africa’s leading lights in volunteering. It was a star-studded line-up of experts and individuals passionate about community and giving something back to the country.  In addition to a competitive judging process and some spectacular wins, the volunteers were given personalised canvasses by their team leaders or executives. It was a gesture designed to really emphasise how valued their work is and how much the company appreciates what they do.

“The impact has been extraordinary and the ripple effect even more so,” says Lackay. “We’ve seen nominees say that they won’t be participating because they’ve already won in the past so that other people can get the recognition. Exceptional winners have stepped back so other people can shine.”

From an idea to a tradition

“The Lesedi Awards have become a tradition for us,” concludes Lackay. “It’s become a thing to get an invite to the event from the senior level manager to the volunteers and other employees. People want to attend and see the recognition given to their colleagues.”

The Lesedi Awards are not just an awards evening. They are a project that spans branches locally and globally, pulling in the support of employees and executive alike. People engage with the volunteer projects with absolute passion and commitment, not only for the recognition provided by the company but for the impact that they can see they are having on the community.

“Our hard work has managed to inspire leadership in volunteerism and this means so much to us,” concludes Lackay. “We’ve won awards and we’ve got results. From 85 nominations in our first year to 685 in 2019, we’ve grown enormously and we continue to grow as more and more employees are inspired by Lesedi and our vision.”

The cost of ignoring Employee Volunteering. You can ignore this link. But it will cost you.

Interested in running an employee volunteering programme or volunteering awards for your corporate employees? Join 15 other leading South African brands. Speak to forgood today.

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