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Building "Awesome" Connections - Tamarack Gratitude Fund

The Tamarack Gratitude Fund builds recognition, engagement and connection between our team and members through small gifts of gratitude.

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In 2016 the Tamarack Institute (www.tamarackcommunity.ca) launched a Gratitude Fund.  Each Tamarack staff member is provided with $500.  They can use this fund to recognise and express their gratitude to other team members and to Tamarack partners.  Tamarack team members are also annually eligible for an additional week of vacation for the best use of their gratitude fund.  There are few constraints on how the team members use the gratitude fund - although no more than 40% can be spent on internal recognition.  The People Team at Tamarack oversees the Gratitude Fund and gently reminds team members to express their gratitude over the course of the year.  

Idea Title

Tamarack's Gratitude Fund builds 'Awesome' Connections

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

The Tamarack Gratitude Fund has had many positive impacts: - Tamarack staff can use the fund to recognise and thank internal and external partners - There are few limitations on the fund and they can spend the money how they see fit - Tamarack staff who use the fund are eligible for an additional weeks vacation or other recognition at the organization - our members and partners feel great about the recognition - Some innovative recognition gifts have included freshly-baked pies, flowers, books, and specialized note books - our team feels empowered to have the ability to express their gratitude to others

Who are you innovating for?

The benefits of the Gratitude Fund are many: our team benefits from the ability to choose who to recognise, how and when; our partners benefit from receiving recognition that is well deserved; and our organisation benefits from having the whole team engaged in the gratitude process. When we share the story of the gratitude fund with colleagues outside the organisation, we inspire them to consider gratitude. It becomes a circle of giving and gratitude.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

The Gratitude Fund can apply to any workplace or organization size. The amount allocated to each employee might differ but the concept of sharing leadership around gratitude is universal. Tamarack is a membership-based organisation and this is a great way to recognise our member and partners. By offering additional incentives to our staff team, we ensure that the Gratitude Fund is a fund but that it is being utilised to recognise key partners.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

This idea could be replicated easily. The oversight of the Gratitude Fund as a responsibility of the Tamarack People Team. It could be the responsibility of a human resource team or a senior leader within the organization. The staff team could set the fund criteria and annual allocation. Then it is up to the staff to implement and share their gratitude. Sharing stories from those in receipt of the gratitude gifts is an incentive to others. Having internal recognition is also an incentive. The challenge, in a remote working environment, is to create small moments of connection and engagement. The Gratitude Fund does this by enabling everyone in their own way to say thanks.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

The obstacles to implementing this idea include: - available financial resources within the organization (although this could be overcome) - employee buy in to access and use the gratitude fund - annual recognition and celebration of the gratitude fund - on-going reminders to team members to spend the fund - lack of activities to recognize (I can't imagine this happening) - too much spending of the fund on internal partners or other team members

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Building the case for the Tamarack Gratitude Fund. Evaluating the impact that the Tamarack Gratitude Fund has had on the employees and partners. Sharing our story and the key criteria for the Tamarack Gratitude Fund as a template for other organisations considering this approach. We would like take this idea and prototype during our workshops. Could we create gratitude exchanges and meaningful moments in learning spaces? What would we learn?

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

We would engage our employee team, especially the Tamarack People Team, to build the case including evaluating how the Gratitude Fund has made a difference to our organization and our partners. We would host a webinar about Gratitude and Recognition. We would recognize partners and IDEO in supporting and advancing this work. We would continue to deploy the Tamarack Gratitude Fund.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

The Tamarack Gratitude fund emerged from a book and video by Scott Stratten, the author of UnMarketing. He describes, in his book, many stories about empowering employees to effectively solve problems by having access to financial and other resources. Tamarack Institute is a membership organization focused at the co-generation of knowledge. We wanted to prototype this idea to build 'awesomeness' into our organization and our partners.

Tell us about yourself

Tamarack Institute (www.tamarackcommunity.ca) is a learning organization. We are devoted to bringing ideas and practice together to drive forward community change efforts. We have 24,000 members in Canada and world-wide. We continually scan for emerging and innovative ideas and then share them with community change practitioners. Our members are at the forefront of complex community change.

Where are you / your team located?

Tamarack is virtual organisation with staff across Canada. Our head office is in Waterloo, Ontario.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Tamarack Institute is a Charity. We have 24,000 members and partners, a remote team. We focus on engagement, connection and community change.

Company / Organization Name

Tamarack Institute - www.tamarackcommunity.ca

Website

www.tamarackcommunity.ca

Tell us about your experience

I have recently been appointed Co-CEO of the Tamarack Institute. Gratitude is in my DNA. My work history has been in the voluntary sector. For a number of years, I was the director of a Volunteer Centre and appreciated the contributions volunteers make to community. I wrote the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement, which was published by Volunteer Canada and adopted by 60,000 organisations in Canada. When individuals contribute to community, we all benefit and should be grateful.

Please describe, in detail, how you will test and get feedback on your concept.

We proto-typed the Tamarack Gratitude Fund in 2016-2017. We are in the evaluation and refinement phase. The Tamarack People Team asked staff members for their feedback. We noted that not all staff used all their funds to the maximum in the first year despite incentives to encourage them. We learned that in a remote work environment, being able to thank colleagues for their acts of support is also essential. Our members were surprised and pleased with the small gifts of gratitude that were shared. Gratitude Fund gifts build connection, commitment and recognition. It benefited the giver and the receiver. Because we draw on our network of partners, members and staff for support, resources and leadership, being able to recognise their contributions spontaneously is a wonderful tool.

Please describe specifically how you plan to scale your idea. What are the key next steps you will take, and how will those steps inform the evolution and growth of your concept?

Tamarack will scale the Gratitude fund in the following ways: - involve our team in developing an evaluation process - provide monthly updates to team members about the fund - develop a tool - 10 easy ways to express gratitude resource - evaluate the impact of gratitude on our members and team - share stories and expressions of impact - celebrate gratitude at all team meetings (rather than just one) - share our story on IDEO and with our partners through our Engage! Newsletter - recognise innovative ways our team is creating 'awesome' experiences of gratitude - create moments of gratitude at Tamarack learning events and with our community

As we have seen in the Challenge, there is a tension between authentic expressions of gratitude and mandatory gratitude. How does your idea inspire truly authentic expressions of gratitude versus mandated ones?

Meaningful engagement is a challenge that we have faced during the prototype year of the Tamarack Gratitude Fund. To move to a truly authentic experience we have learned that you need few rules, helpful tools, engagement of your team in the design and development, celebration and expressions of gratitude for all. To be able to express gratitude, you have to be grateful for those joining in the journey.

Gratitude often thrives when opportunities for connection are created. How will your concept create new opportunities for human connection?

Tamarack is keenly aware of the need for connection. Our staff members work remotely. Our Tamarack members and partners live and work across Canada and globally. The Gratitude Fund is not limited to our members but also provides an opportunity for our staff team to connect to one another. The opportunity to say thanks, send gifts or design books builds a connected force for community change - Tamarack's vision.

Who (specifically) will benefit from your concept, and how they will interact with it? What design considerations have you included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions? 

The main beneficiaries of Tamarack's Gratitude Fund will be the members or the organisation and the Tamarack staff team. Our internal People Team will steward the Gratitude Fund. The People team is composed of individuals from different parts of the organisation. Our early discussions include the following improvements as we enter the next phase of the Tamarack Gratitude Fund. We will use gentle reminders to our team to encourage them, provide them with tools and resources, and make sure that there are minimal rules. We will celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges. We want to capture the stories of gratitude from our members (staff and others) and share them broadly. We want to learn about the impact this has on creating connections, deepening ties and encouraging ripple effects. We also want to understand the barriers to engagement and decrease these. Making the act of gratitude easy, fun and meaningful are the keys to our strategy.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

One of our Team Members created a small, self-published book of poems and stories about Gratitude. We would love to publish this book and use it as a gratitude gift. We will conduct a deeper evaluation of the Gratitude Fund and its impact on staff and members. We will 'spread the gratitude' at our learning events by providing learners an opportunity to express their gratitude to each other. We will share our impact widely, through our newsletter, stories and social media.

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unmarketing.jpg

Our inspiration - the book 'UnMarketing' by Scott Stratten.

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