As April marks National Volunteer Month, it’s important to recognize the vital role volunteers play in the success of nonprofits. Showing volunteer appreciation is crucial for the growth of any organization. If you help run any kind of nonprofit you probably already know how important your volunteers are to your success.
Volunteers are a cost-saving benefit that give your employed staff and leadership the space to focus on the bigger picture. Their hours of service and passion for your mission play an essential role in building community programs and expanding your organization’s reach. Volunteering isn’t just beneficial for nonprofits, it’s also beneficial for volunteers themselves. Studies have shown that long-term volunteer engagement can aid in a person’s well-being and long-term health.
Since volunteers play such an important role, showing volunteer appreciation is key to your nonprofit’s sustainability. When volunteers feel appreciated they are more likely to continue their participation and stay active with your organization. Volunteers that have a positive experience with your nonprofit are also more likely to become future donors.
Volunteering is at the very core of being human. No one has made it through life without someone else’s help. – Heather French Henry
Volunteer appreciation doesn’t have to be grand. Your appreciation can be shown in small steps that are done weekly, monthly, or annually.
Here are five ways you can start to make your volunteers feel more appreciated.
5 Ways to Show Volunteer Appreciation
1. Welcome Introduction
When a new volunteer begins with your nonprofit have a formal way of showing your excitement and appreciation for their involvement. Introduce and welcome new volunteers to your community of staff and other volunteers. This could be in the form of a hand-written letter from your Executive Director, a personalized card, or a simple meet and greet with the rest of your team. This is also a great opportunity to set expectations and reinforce the impact their volunteer work will make.
Recognize your volunteers publicly through social media, your website, or your newsletter. Publicly praise your volunteers for their hard work and contribution to your cause. Point out the ways their participation and involvement have made a difference in your community or mission. Within your newsletter or website, have a section dedicated to highlighting volunteers. To take this a step further, reach out to your local newspaper to see if they would be willing to highlight your volunteers once a month or quarterly! Spotlight special volunteers and celebrate their dedication to the work you do.
3. Small Acts of Kindness
As we mentioned before, showing appreciation doesn’t have to be grand. Find small ways to thank your volunteers. Do you host weekly volunteer meetings or events? Perhaps provide coffee and donuts/refreshments for some of those meetings. Hold a monthly volunteer raffle where the winner wins free merchandise from your nonprofit (ie t-shirt, pens, stickers) or a small gift card. Get creative with the ways you can make your volunteers feel seen.
Communication goes a long way in people feeling seen and appreciated. Words are powerful and making a point to simply acknowledge someone’s work goes a long way. Set up bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins with your volunteers. Send a message through a Volunteer Manager and take the time to hear about their volunteer experience and any feedback they have. Setting up a time to check in with your volunteers shows them that you value their sacrifice and time in supporting your nonprofit.
5. Annual Appreciation
Take the time to have an annual celebration for the hard work and accomplishments of your volunteers. This could be a banquet, gala, or something more intimate and small if your volunteer base is not as large. Dedicate time to recognize your long-term volunteers, volunteers that are leaving, or any new volunteers on your team. Give out certificates, or awards to recognize their contribution. This can be as fancy as a gala or as simple as a virtual holiday party. This is a great opportunity to share with volunteers their accomplishments and how their contribution has impacted your nonprofit. They deserve it and so do you!
Take the Time
There are a multitude of ways to show volunteer appreciation. We hope that the above inspired you to brainstorm different ways you can celebrate your volunteers. Your volunteers are vital to your nonprofit’s success and letting them know how much you value their partnership has huge benefits. Don’t miss your opportunity to show them how much you care.
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