With April designated as National Volunteer Month, it’s a perfect time to recognize the incredible impacts of service across our communities. The third week in April is also National Volunteer Week, a call to action for Americans to volunteer and a week to inspire by example. Making the effort to celebrate and recognize the volunteers in your orbit is crucial to keeping volunteers and growing your volunteer program. There are countless ways to show appreciation, but we can suggest three ways to get started.
- Make time to recognize your volunteers.
Volunteer Appreciation Month provides a great opportunity to recognize volunteers, but the truth is that there is no wrong time to show your appreciation! You can use formal events such as recognition ceremonies to celebrate your volunteers annually. You can also schedule times to gather informally, by hosting a lunch or other small reception at regular intervals. Calendar events such as Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the end of the year can be fun chances to reflect on what your volunteers have accomplished and say thanks.
There are some statewide opportunities for annual volunteer recognition:
Additionally, there are a few more resources with ideas for how to recognize volunteers in your own organization:
- Share your volunteers’ stories and impacts.
Make volunteer appreciation a regular part of your outreach and social media strategy. Share photos of volunteers serving (with their consent of course) with a short message of thanks and how they helped with a specific project. If they are inclined, offer to tag their social media accounts as well so they can share your posts. If you have a blog or newsletter, spotlight an individual or group of volunteers once a month. Share news about your volunteers or a special event with your local media outlets. In addition to showing appreciation, communication and outreach builds the story of service within your organization, and can help you engage with a wider audience, as well as more potential volunteers.
- Say thank you!
The simplest action can be the most meaningful. Whether it’s a short verbal “thank you” at the end of a shift or a hand-written note after a task is completed, saying thanks helps your volunteers feel seen and valued within your organization. When using this approach, the more specific you can be, the better. Highlight something unique about the volunteer and their skills and how they contributed to the greater good, and they will remember it forever.
Your volunteers don’t ask for recognition, but it helps tremendously to make your volunteers feel valued, which will keep them coming back. Recognition does not have to be expensive or formal to be effective, it just needs to be sincere. It can even be fun! Make recognition a habit, and everyone benefits: your volunteers, your organization and the greater community.
Further Reading and Resources:
Source: Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers: The 55-Minute Training Series Betty Stallings (2007). Philadelphia, PA: Energize Inc.
Article provided by Volunteer Iowa