Love your Volunteers. Really.

Veronica Gerrity
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

April 15th through the 21st was National Volunteer Week in the US, powered by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. This special time gave nonprofit organizations the opportunity to remember the great works accomplished by their volunteers.

Established in 1974 and growing steadily ever since, National Volunteer Week has grown exponentially each year. The repeated success of this celebration proves honoring the impact of volunteers in our communities will inspire others to serve. JB+A has come up with 10 creative ways to say thank you to your volunteers year-round and show these unpaid, yet highly productive workers for your organization how valuable they and their contributions really are:

  1. Shout it Out – give a public shout out to your rockstar volunteers on your website, Facebook, Twitter or newsletter. Highlight specific volunteers and shine a light on their hard work and the impact they have on your organization.
  2. Let Them be Creative – Do your volunteers wear an organizational t-shirt? Hold a contest to let your volunteers design it. This helps volunteers feel creative and empowered – and really increases wardrobe options for your long-time volunteers.
  3. Share a Gift of Love – Ask those served by your nonprofit to craft personal gifts (letters, art work, poems, pictures from past events) to give to treasured volunteers.
  4. Volunteer Hall of Fame – Have an empty wall in the office? Create a Volunteer Hall of Fame and post pictures of each volunteer. Highlight a new “inductee” each month or quarter.
  5. Have Them Say It – Invite volunteers to share personal stories about why they volunteer and special experiences with your organization, then feature those stories in your newsletter, on your website and social media and on the Hall of Fame wall.
  6. Flexibility is King – Have a volunteer who is always reliable? Show your appreciation by giving them first dibs on working desirable projects or offer more flexibility in their volunteer schedule.
  7. Meet and Eat – Treat your volunteers to a meal with the people who appreciate their time the most – your clients and their families, staff and Board members. Yum.
  8. Remember the Person – Keep records of volunteers’ birthdays and send them a card. Did you hear about a major accomplishment or life event (graduation, new job, wedding or birth etc.) with a volunteer? Send them a quick note and let them know your organization is proud to be a part of their lives.
  9. Make Them Laugh – Have extra candy lying around? Create “punny” thank-you messages and add some candy to surprise your volunteers when they walk in. Sometimes the silliest way to say thank you is the one that will stick.
  10. Show Them the Love – Create an online photo album showing the work your volunteers have contributed over the last year. The visual impact of seeing their accomplishments is a great way to reinforce your organization’s appreciation.

Lastly, remembering to simply say “thank you” and remembering to say it often is sometimes all anyone needs to hear to reaffirm their commitment and love for your organization. Taking the time to be sincere and making each occasion to recognize volunteers meaningful will allow your organization to achieve more and be better.

Cast from the vision of 1,000 points of light shared by founder President George H. W. Bush in his 1989 inaugural address, Points of Light helps mobilize people to take action on the causes they care about through innovative programs, events and campaigns.

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