Whether your organization has just held an event that your volunteers were a huge help with or you have a few volunteers who just go above and beyond, it’s always a good time to say thanks and show your appreciation.
Every nonprofit knows how valuable volunteers are. They donate their time and skills to help further your organization’s mission and they deserve recognition for that all-year-round, not just at the holidays! You can always make it a point to observe National Volunteer Week and Volunteer Recognition Day, both held in April each year.
Since nonprofits are often on a tight budget, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to show your appreciation. Here are our top 13 volunteer appreciation ideas to thank your volunteers and let them know they’re a treasured part of your institution.
Free Volunteer Appreciation Ideas
1. Give Shoutouts
Take a minute to give your volunteers a shoutout in a newsletter, your blog, and/or on social media. You could feature a new volunteer every month or highlight the excellent work done by all of your volunteers. This way, they’ll be excited to see their efforts recognized, appreciated, and shared with the world.
2. Invite Them to Your Events
A big part of showing appreciation is making your volunteers feel like they’re part of the team. When it’s appropriate, take time to invite them to parties and celebrations in your organization. When they get the invite, they’ll know they’re a valued part of the group.
3. Recommend Volunteers to Prospective Employers
Some volunteers may be working with your organization to gain experience to further their careers. If you know that’s the case, a recommendation to someone in your network will mean a lot. It may even change their life!
4. Provide Letters of Reference
Similar to recommending a volunteer for a job or opportunity, providing a letter of reference for something like a job interview or college/graduate school application shows that you recognize their contributions and appreciate them so much that you’re willing to take the time to help them out.
5. Ask For Their Opinions and Advice
Show them you value their work and their opinions by asking for their input.
And remember, it’s not enough to just ask, you also have to listen! Volunteers are part of your organization’s team and often, they’re on the front lines. They likely have insight that will help you better plan and execute programs, events, or even day-to-day operations.
6. Let Them Know Their Impact
Most people volunteer because they want to make a difference in the world. Let them know the impact that their time and effort has had on your organization and the people you serve. They’ll feel great knowing exactly how their work is affecting others.
7. Free Admission
When people volunteer to work special events like races, festivals, and exhibit openings, giving them free admission to the event is a great way to show you appreciate them. They’ll love being able to take part in the festivities – free of charge! – instead of just working them.
Low-Cost Volunteer Appreciation Ideas
8. Feed Them
As the saying goes, the way to the heart is through the stomach. Whether you decide to host a volunteer luncheon, dinner party, or potluck or just provide snacks and drinks while they work, providing food is always a great way to show appreciation.
9. Hold a Volunteer Awards Night
To really shine the spotlight on your volunteers, an awards night is in order. Hosting an event dedicated to them is sure to make them feel appreciated.
Here are a couple of award ideas
- Youngest volunteer
- Longest-serving volunteer
- The one that put in the most hours over the past year
- Your weekend warriors
- …the list goes on!
10. Send a Handwritten Card or Letter of Thanks
In a digital world, handwritten cards go a long way. The fact that you took the time to pick up (or make!) a card, write a heartfelt message, and mail it is sure to warm anyone’s heart.
While you can certainly send a thank you card now and then, but it’s also a great idea to send a card on their birthday and volunteer anniversary.
11. Volunteer Team Shirts
There’s a reason sports teams wear uniforms: when people are wearing the same thing, they feel unified. Getting your volunteers matching shirts (or other articles of clothing like vests or hats) will help them feel more united and dedicated to the organization.
12. Small Tokens of Appreciation
A small gift now and then is a great way to show how much you care. Gift cards in small increments like $5 or $10 are greatly appreciated. You can even keep a few in your office to hand out when you feel like a volunteer has gone above and beyond! Just don’t go overboard with gifts.
13. DIY Gifts
Baked goods are always a great idea and if you’re feeling crafty, you can make small treats for your volunteers. Pinterest is full of free printables and ideas for easy volunteer appreciation gifts. Get other employees in on the crafting and turn it into a team-building activity!
Giving volunteers their due isn’t just important because it’s nice, it’s vital for the overall health of your volunteer program. Showing appreciation will help improve volunteer retention, increase participation, and help with recruiting new volunteers.
Contact Capital Business Solutions to Hear More Nonprofit Tips & Ideas
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