Standards for Military Family Readiness programs

2020 Edition

Volunteer Coordination (MIL-VC) 5: Volunteer Recognition and Retention

The volunteer coordination program’s recognition and retention efforts reflect what is known about volunteer motivation.

2020 Edition




Volunteer Coordination programs promote volunteer recruitment and retention and support achievement of the program’s mission.

High turnover rates can negatively affect the volunteer coordination program’s ability to function and effectively serve its customers. Additionally, recruiting and training new volunteers can be both time consuming and expensive. As such, sufficient resources must be directed towards recognizing volunteers and keeping them engaged and invested.

Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the programs’ practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality and/or overall performance.
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance 
A rating of (2) indicates that a programs’ infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. The majority of the standard's requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  Minor inconsistencies and practices that are not fully developed are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality and/or overall performance.
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that significant aspects of the programs’ observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement. The program has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework. Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised. Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation and Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all. Observed infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.

Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • A description of volunteer recognition and retention efforts (MIL-VC 5.01)
  • Examples of recognition materials (MIL-VC 5.01)
  • See volunteer assignments in MIL-VC 1 (MIL-VC 5.02)
  • 1 or 2 changes made to the volunteer coordination program in response to issues affecting the volunteer pool (MIL-VC 5.03)

MIL-VC 5.01

Recognition efforts are:

  1. both formal and informal;
  2. reflective of what’s known about volunteer motivation;
  3. timely;
  4. creative; and
  5. inclusive and consistent.


 Examples of formal and informal recognition efforts include regularly thanking volunteers for their service, highlighting volunteer activities in newsletters and on websites, and planning regular recognition ceremonies.

MIL-VC 5.02

To keep volunteers motivated and engaged, volunteer assignments are:

  1. varied and flexible; and
  2. mutually beneficial to volunteers and the program.


Examples of volunteer opportunities that meet elements (a) and (b) include assignments that:

  1. fit a range of experience, talent, and strengths;
  2. are flexible in schedule and worksite, including virtual volunteer opportunities that can be completed from home; 
  3. allow for families or friends to volunteer together;
  4. have an immediate and observable impact; and
  5. offer opportunities for growth, education, and acquisition of new skills.

Research on volunteer retention finds that the most successful volunteer coordination programs are those that create volunteer opportunities that are viewed as mutually beneficial to the program and the volunteers. Benefits for volunteers can include new social relationships and a feeling of belonging, improved self-esteem or self-acceptance, increased civic identity, and even improvements to physical and mental health.

MIL-VC 5.03

The volunteer coordination program adapts its approach to recruiting, matching, training, recognizing, and supporting volunteers in response to issues affecting its volunteer pool. 


Examples of issues that may affect the volunteer pool include high unemployment rates, increases in the cost of transportation, or issues around deployment and relocation.