Volunteers devote hours of energy and effort to our favorite causes every year. If you want to ensure your community volunteers feel valued and remain committed to the good they do, here are a few ways in which you can help.
Roll out the red carpet.
(Volunteer Commitment: 5-40 hours)
Celebrate your volunteers with an awards presentation. Depending on your team’s size and commitment, this might be the best way to show your appreciation while having a little fun. Not only is it a great way to thank those who answer your mission’s call, it reinforces performance and participation by visibly recognizing others for their hard work in front of their peers.
Your presentation doesn’t have to match the spectacle of the Oscars, but some thought should go into its execution, such as the venue, budget and production of the event, as well as the atmosphere and message you want to convey. You can even add a little prestige to the event by inviting someone from upper management or a community member whose life has been positively affected by the work of your team. Whether it’s a small, informal presentation or a black-tie event, an award presentation has a powerful effect both on the morale of your volunteers and the future of your cause.
Make it personal.
(Volunteer Commitment: 2-10 hours)
Show your gratitude by creating something unique and individualized for your volunteers. This could be as simple as writing a thank you letter that recalls a shared moment between the two of you. Or write a letter of recommendation for your student volunteer. Got event photos? Create a scrapbook and include comments and quotes from fellow volunteers. Or purchase a unique gift that speaks to the character and interests of each team member. Whatever it may be, you can demonstrate that your appreciation is more than common courtesy by thinking up something personal.
Include the family.
(Volunteer Commitment: 3-10 hours)
Most volunteering occurs outside of work and away from family. You can thank volunteers for their personal sacrifices, by inviting their families over to dinner, or treating them with tickets to a local event. Need to thank multiple families? Host a picnic or ice-cream social. Doing something nice for volunteers’ families is a great way of showing that you care for them beyond your shared cause.
Feature their performance.
You can also thank your volunteers by sharing their stories. Similar to an awards presentation, publicizing a volunteer’s hard work can leave a lasting impression. It could be as simple as posting their photo to Facebook with a positive message. Or writing a blog post that captures who they are, and their outstanding contribution to your cause. Maybe your volunteer’s story is of public interest, in which case you might contact your local newspaper to cover it. Or feature volunteers by nominating them for a local award.
Recognizing volunteers is much more than a tactic for volunteer retention; it shows your belief in them and their contributions. Investing a bit of time and creative effort is the least we can do for all those who help us create the good. And the possibilities are endless.
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