All moderators are not equal. I'm using the term moderator with a ton of leniency, because what I'm hoping to encompass here are all those souls who are viewed as leaders within a community, that are not necessarily Admin. This may not be typical in a community of NFT aficionados for example, but may be typical in a community of nursing students or medical students [like the one I oversaw at Osmosis.org].
It may come to pass that your community reaches a level where a new incentive needs to be toyed with. You've considered and tested things like: swag, challenges, hackathons, virtual coffee matching and the like; but you're currently at a point where 1. not only are you unable to scale some of the things you used to do [such as personally DM each new member] but 2. things are starting to feel stale. A great way to ante up the situation into a lituation [if you will] is the inclusion of a leadership level or the creation of an advisory board or something similar.
Essentially, these are community members who are super users, consistent, loyal with feedback, intrinsically motivated, and have a yearning to do more for the community. Allow them to help you raise the community up to a point where, [IMO, this is the true marker of a solid community] you can go on vacation/take time off for a full week and the community continues to thrive in your absence. That's the ticket!!
Invite your members to apply to an exclusive position of leadership within the community and ensure the expectations are crystal clear. Keep in mind, if you're not going to pay these volunteers, then recognize how much you're asking of them and allow this to guide you in determining how many leaders you will accept. For this, regardless of if you receive 5 or 500 applications [hopefully it's reasonable, otherwise you may need yourself an intern] you may want to consider creating an easy and replicable rubric to hone in on what you're looking for. See my chart below:
An example rubric template
If you're the sole person in Community and you know almost every member, it can be wildly easy [and lazy] to rely on only those you know the best, to be chosen. Sometimes, it can be more subtle and try as you might to be inclusive, you could end up inadvertently choosing 4 extroverts, just like you. Having a numeric choice system is best.
The top section in faded yellow, gives the scaling rubric of 1-5 and I suggest you be extremely critical with your numbering. Next to that are the regions that I'm hoping to have covered, most likely because I have the other regions covered already.
The candidates are obvious, and are listed out horizontally so that their attributed numbers will flow vertically below them. The left side of factors are the things that you want to hone in on most, in what you determine to be the absolute priorities in choosing. Then, start plotting in numbers either from 1. your review of a survey they've filled out at your creation and/or 2. the determinations based upon a colleague holding a mini interview with them [to negate bias]. Surveys are the least time consuming imo and would be created with one question relating to one of your priorities in the Factors list.
Make a simply sum equation to add up the numbers of each candidate and make your choice based solely on raw numbers. This is why you want to be super critical and conscious of your numbering.
This whole project can easily take one month or more depending on how many applicants you anticipate, as well as creating the rubric and an accompanying survey. After all that, you'd want to have a process to relaying to everyone who has and hasn't been chosen and when they start. But that's a different conversation.
If you're interested in choosing the best moderators and leaders for your community, here's a rubric template that you can snag!