Many people write about how to thank volunteers, but all too often, these “writers” don’t have a clue…many haven’t really even volunteered themselves…and when they talk it’s usually at a 50,000 feet level…if you know what I mean. So here are a few meaningful ways to thank volunteers. Many seem like no-brainers, but sometimes those with little experience may not understand or think about these suggestions in real terms.
Thank yous are always important from a volunteer coordinator, but what about from other staff and/or board members? Well, they are! All too often, I have seen board members and other staffers come in and out of an event without thanking one volunteer. It is very important that other people within the organization thank volunteers. The importance is it makes volunteers feel appreciated and connected to the organization!
THANK THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Always take a picture of all your volunteers before an event happens….then post a thank you on social media. Of course, don’t forget to get their permission before you post that picture!
THANK THEM IN NEWSLETTERS
Thanking volunteers in newsletters is yet another way to thank volunteers
THANK YOU AND OTHER APPRECIATION EVENTS
Thank you parties are always important because many times volunteers are working an event and they don’t get the opportunity to fully enjoy said event. By providing an event that is solely focused on them is another way to thank them!
Not all volunteers are going to want to volunteer at all events. Offer a discount or comp admission to other events to volunteers is another way of thanking them!
Yes, there is a real cash cost, but many times organizations forget the value t-shirts really have. For many volunteers wearing a tee gives them a sense of pride. It makes them feel connected. After the event, volunteers continue to wear those tees. That is an extra marketing benefit for not only your organization, but for any sponsor whose logo is on that t-shirt. The most important item to remember is having tees in all sizes and having enough. AND I MEAN ALL SIZES…..Nothing is worse than being told that you don’t have a tee in the size your volunteer needs or that you ran out. When volunteers provide me with their volunteer waivers, I always ask their size…so I can make sure that I have the right number of sizes on hand.
Nothing is more important than feeding and ensuring that your volunteers are hydrated…especially if you have long shifts. Make sure you have snacks on hand. You can always recruit in-kind sponsors. I have had 66 Route Chips, Kind Bars, and many others similar sponsors provide my volunteers snacks. Sometimes volunteers are running from their jobs to your event, so having snacks on hand is great. Some other points to consider. Early morning shifts? Make sure you have coffee and bagels on hand. Evening shifts around dinner time? Make sure you have food for volunteers. You don’t want volunteers working through dinner and into the evening without proper sustience.
Make sure you are giving volunteer breaks especially if you are making them work an entire event. Many times, a volunteer coordinator will have volunteers work set up, the event, and breakdown, if you do…make sure you are giving them breaks. I don’t mean bathroom breaks…I mean breaks so they can enjoy the event. No one like to work an entire event and not be able to enjoy any part of it.
VIP AREAS, ETC.
VIPs, donors, and sponsors are all important people, but so are volunteers. Volunteers’ time is as precious as one’s checkbook. If you are offering something special to VIPs, be sure to offer it to volunteers. Whether its access to a special area, the opportunity to meet someone special, food/beverages in VIP areas, etc. Providing the same opportunities to your volunteers that you are providing VIPs…sends a strong message that volunteer are as important to you as VIPs…because you never know… volunteer can end up as your next sponsors, funder, or donor!
Who doesn’t love free stuff. Sharing those items with your volunteers is yet another way of thanking volunteers…..such as swag bags, etc….
VOLUNTEER ONLY RAFFLES
Have a raffle of various items whether its free items, comp event tickets…it is another way to thank volunteers while having some fun!
LASTLY, By properly thanking volunteers, you should have no problem recruiting volunteers for future events!
PS…We’ll update this post as we find more and more great ways to thank our volunteers