National-Volunteer-Recognition-DayWhat is a successful nonprofit without volunteers? Volunteers offer up their time, skills and resources in an effort to both give back to and make a difference in the community.

With Volunteer Recognition Day approaching on April 20th, it is good to remember the importance of recognizing your volunteers and the many ways you can do so throughout the year.

Fun Ways to Recognize Your Volunteers

Give Them Perspective
Giving a volunteer perspective is vital for helping them understand why their time was equally needed and appreciated. While this is also important prior to their help, showing them the affects of their services after really drives the point home. Send ongoing updates throughout the year, including details and pictures if possible/applicable. Include real life testimonies of the situation or person(s) impacted by their generosity.

Take it Online
Make sure your volunteers are following you on social media (blogs, Twitter, e-mail lists, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Make a point to thank them publicly, recognizing their contribution. This can be a quick “thanks everyone!” or an article singling out one “star” volunteer, showcasing their work. This will do 2 things: 1. Let them know they are appreciated. 2. Encourage onlookers (other followers) to consider volunteering as well!

Host a Special Event
Recognize all volunteers at once by planning and inviting them to a special function. This could be a fancy gala, a breakfast, lunch or dinner or even something such as a reserved section of seats at a sporting event.

Be Creative
Send a handwritten thank you card. Send a birthday card. Give out volunteer awards and come up with unique categories (most punctual volunteer, volunteer who recruited the most friends, most outgoing, etc.).

A common way to recognize your volunteers is through a small token of appreciation. You can exercise your creativity with this by choosing whatever you like as your “token.” Examples may include a t-shirt, personalized photo, discounts/coupons, or admission (for example, race volunteers may receive free race registration).

Good for Everyone
Recognizing your volunteers is beneficial for your nonprofit. Recognition will help improve volunteer retention, increase participation (recruit new volunteers) and most importantly support your mission. No matter which method you choose to recognize your volunteers, remember the bigger picture and who/what you’re in it for.