Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

Mary Gormandy White
Recognize Outstanding Volunteers

Are you looking for volunteer appreciation ideas? There are several things that you can do to make certain that the individuals who give so generously of their time and talents know that their efforts are appreciated.

Why Volunteer Appreciation Matters

If your charitable organization depends on the continued support of volunteers to meet its mission, you are not alone. Most nonprofits rely heavily on the efforts of individuals who donate their time. It's important to keep in mind that volunteers are under no obligation to continue sharing their time and talents. They continue to participate because they want to do so and because they know their efforts are appreciated. That's why being proactive in seeking out and implementing volunteer appreciation ideas is so important.

Different Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

There are many ways you can let your organization's volunteers know that you appreciate their efforts and to help them understand just how important their contributions really are.

Service Hour Awards

Sometimes its easy to get into the habit of taking for granted the efforts of individuals who consistently participate in your organization's programs and activities. In order to make sure that you recognize the accomplishments of your most consistent volunteers, establish milestones for volunteer service hours and recognize those who contribute the most time to your agency.

Keep track of the hours that volunteers share with your organization and respond with a formal acknowledgement each time a new milestone is reached. You can do so with some type of tangible award, such as a certificate, plaque, or novelty item, as well as mentioning each new accomplishment in the organization's newsletter or other internal and external communication materials.

Recognize Outstanding Contributions

In addition to recognizing volunteers for the hours that they work, you can also implement a formal rewards program for outstanding contributions. Think about the types of accomplishments you'd like to reinforce and implement recognition programs to show your appreciation. For example, let volunteers know that new ideas are appreciated, as well as service on committees, identification of new funding sources, and other contributions.

Spotlight a Volunteer

Consider setting aside a column in your newsletter or on your website to spotlight an outstanding volunteer. Set up a formal nomination procedure for determining who is featured in the column at any given time and update it on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your organization, you may want to feature a different volunteer every week, month, or quarter.

Volunteer Appreciation Events

Holding a volunteer appreciation event of some type can be an excellent way to demonstrate to volunteers that their generosity is valued. Many organizations hold a quarterly or annual luncheon or reception that all active volunteers are invited to attend. Awards and recognition for outstanding achievements and service hours are often presented at these types of events. If your budget doesn't include funding for this type of volunteer appreciation event, you may want to seek a sponsor to help fund at least an annual gathering for those who help your organization accomplish its mission without any expectation of payment for their efforts.

Thank You Notes

One of the most simple and inexpensive, yet often overlooked, way to express appreciation to volunteers is with personal thank you notes. Hand written thank you notes can be a very meaningful way to let volunteers know that their efforts are truly appreciated. Make sure that the notes are personalized and express sincere thanks for time contributed and a job well done. If you send notes that seem like form letters, your efforts can actually backfire.

Volunteer Retention

When you run a nonprofit organization, it's important to take steps to keep the volunteers you have and encourage others to share their talents with your agency. Using creative and effective volunteer appreciation ideas is an integral part of any volunteer retention program.

Volunteer Appreciation Ideas