Volunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofits.They can bring extra hands to a program.
They can also bring fresh ideas, new enthusiasm, and a different perspective.
They work without reward and often under less-than-perfect circumstances.
So, be sure to thank them. And thank them well.
It’s National Volunteer Week, so what better time to give your volunteers some love?
If you’re like most, you’ve not stopped long enough to even think about it, much less come up with a creative way to show your gratitude.
Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered.
Here are some ideas for thanking your volunteers this week or any time.
- Hand-written thank you note. A personalized note is always in style. Simple jot down a heart-felt thanks along with a specific, personal reason why you appreciate them. You can choose fancy or themed cards for more impact.
- Home-made card. Got a creative spark and some extra time? Make the cards. You could personalize them with a photo of your volunteer in action, or something else that gives the card that personal touch. Craft stores are FULL of stickers, decals, paper punches, and other toys to help you create little works of art.
- Crayon drawing from a kid in your program. If you have a program that serves kids, crayon drawings are pure magic and will warm anyone’s heart.
- Thank-you video. Shoot a short video thanking your volunteer. It could be various staff saying thank you, your program participants, or your Board. Who could be in the video that would warm your volunteers’ hearts? Remember that this sort of video doesn’t need to be long or fancy, and can easily be shot with your smart phone. Upload it to YouTube and send your volunteers a link.
- Send a thank-you ecard. There are all kinds of resources for sending ecards. www.Hallmarkecards.com and www.americangreetings.com/
ecards are two options.
- Have a Board member call to thank them. A phone call from a Board member is always powerful. And it’s good for both the volunteer and the Board member.
- Have your entire staff sign a card for them. This is so simple, yet often overlooked. At a staff meeting or gathering, simple pass a card around and ask everyone to sign it for your volunteer. If you have lots of volunteers, this may take a while, but the payoff will be big. Plus, it gets your entire staff involved in appreciating volunteers, which is a good thing.
- Host a small reception to thank them. Depending on your situation, you may be able to host a dessert reception or an ice cream social or some such thing to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them. If you can do this when your volunteers are already gathered, you’ll have more of them show up. Volunteers don’t always want to come out for a special event honoring them. Strange but true.
- Give them a Starbucks gift card. If you can afford it, a small token can be very meaningful. You might be able to get these donated if you ask nice.
- Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper and publicly thank your volunteers. You can express your thanks to your volunteers as a group and talk about how essential they are to your work. Be careful about naming them individually – if you accidentally omit someone, there will be hurt feelings!
- Thank them on Facebook. Don’t forget that social media can be a powerful tool for showing appreciation.
- Get creative! If you’d like to do something a little different or a little clever, check out this Pinterest Board I created for you. There are about 40 ideas and resources there that can help you make a big impact. You’ll find it at https://www.pinterest.com/
Appreciating and thanking volunteers really should be an ongoing activity, not something you do once a year. Figure out what you can do regularly and put the individual actions on your calendar so you can keep up with it.
And in case you need them, here are some other great resources for finding and working with volunteers: