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10 Fun & Simple Ways to Thank Volunteers

Do you find yourself wearing many hats at your organization: janitor, secretary, and chief bottle washer? All of this on top of managing one of your most valuable assets? Of course we are talking about your volunteers!

If any of this seems familiar this list is for you! We know you’re busy and finding the time to carve out a lunch break can be challenging let alone planning a volunteer recognition event. However, with little to no planning, it’s still possible to thank volunteers and recognize their contributions during National Volunteer Week April 10-16, 2016.

Ideas for Busy Volunteers Managers

1.  Host a “Hats Off to Volunteers Day!  This is a fun and irreverent way to let volunteers know they’re appreciated and it’s easy to organize. Just have staff wear a hat on a specific day during National Volunteer Week then ask them to tip their hat each time they encounter a volunteer!

 2. Ask for input. Asking volunteers for feedback shows you respect their opinion and consider them a valuable team member. Thank them for their service by handing out a survey, holding a volunteer rap session, or installing a suggestion box.

 3. Secret Santa in April. Not quite… but you get the idea. Match staff members with volunteers and ask staff to leave notes, goodies, and small tokens of appreciation for their designated volunteer.

 4. The quickest way to a volunteer’s heart is through their stomach. Host a volunteer appreciation pot luck. Ask staff to bring a dish to share and use the lunch as an opportunity to recognize and thank volunteers.

5. Sing their praises…literally… Want to really make your volunteers swoon? Surprise them with an impromptu serenade. Your lovable voices may not make the cut for The Voice, but we bet you’ll melt your volunteer’s hearts! You can find volunteer related songs online, but for extra points make up your own lyrics that will resonate personally with volunteers.

6. Connect the dots. Paint the picture of how volunteer efforts are propelling your mission forward.  Develop a slide show of volunteers in action that illustrates impact or construct a bulletin board starring pictures of volunteers highlighting their achievements.

7. Water your volunteers and watch them grow. Keeping volunteers challenged with interesting assignments uses their talents and demonstrates your commitment. Many volunteers come to an organization hoping to expand horizons, advance careers, or cultivate new interests. Provide volunteers opportunities for growth and enrichment by asking them to serve on advisory committees, offering training opportunities, and leadership roles.

8. Shout it from the roof tops. Broadcast your volunteers’ contributions to everyone in the community. Hang a banner in town or in front of your office thanking volunteers, write a press release recognizing volunteers for their service, and highlight volunteers on your website and social media.

9. Give a crafty token of appreciation. Visit our Pinterest page to find witty ideas to thank volunteers. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • Mini box of Frosted Flakes cereal with a note that says “You’re Grrrreat!”
  • Peanuts with a note that says, “We would go nuts without your support!”
  • Cinnamon bun with a note that says, “Thanks for working your buns off!”
  • Lifesavers candy with a note that says, “You’re a lifesaver!”

10. Just say THANK YOU! Give a handwritten note thanking volunteers individually. Get creative by including a poem. Write your own your or check out these volunteer themed ones. If you have a little money to spare including a personal note inside a copy of “Chicken Soup for the Volunteers Soul” is a nice touch. An extra special way to honor volunteers is with the Lieutenant Governor’s Volunteer Recognition Certificate.