Volunteer Appreciation is Key

By: Danielle Jessup, CMP

You receive a $10,000 donation to support an event that you are managing. You have 50 volunteers that have put in more than 6,000 hours and over 12 months of their time. What do you do to appropriately thank the sponsor or volunteer?

Thank you
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is easy to show how a donation of $10,000 benefits the association, but how do you show the value of your volunteers time? I have been a volunteer for many different organizations in the past. The main reason for doing so is because I have passion towards something the organization represents. Although passion is the driving factor for donating my time, second reason is knowing the organizations rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers.  The key to volunteer appreciation is that it should be completed year-round in order to keep your volunteers engaged.  A few ways to show your volunteers that you appreciate them throughout the year are listed below.

Build a Relationship

Take the time to build a relationship with each of your volunteers.  Get to know their strengths and weaknesses as well as their motivation.  This will not only help you when trying to assign them to different committees, events, etc., but it will also help promote a long term relationship. For example, if someone is not comfortable making sales calls, it is best to not assign them to the Scholarship Committee.  This could make them feel uncomfortable and nonproductive. It can even turn them off from volunteering in the future.

Ask for a Testimonial

Most volunteers would gladly provide you with a testimonial, which could make them feel more appreciated. Asking each volunteer to write a quote is a great way to keep them engaged.  Both the volunteer and the staff can benefit from this.  The volunteer gets to share their story and be reminded of the importance of their time. You on the other hand now have a story to share on your website and other promotional material as well as a great resource for volunteer recruitment.  You can take this one step further and create a volunteer spotlight on your website or in newsletters.

Thank You Card or Recognition Award

A handwritten thank you card goes a long way. Make sure to personalize them based on the specific task they assisted with. In addition to the card, a small gift or recognition award will remind them of their achievements.  If your budget doesn’t allot for volunteer gifts, an inexpensive way to give your volunteers something to take home is a personalized certificate.  Awarding these to your volunteers, especially during a gathering or event, will become a very memorable experience for them.

I have been on both sides of the fence; a volunteer for a non-profit organization and also managing multiple volunteer committees and boards as the Executive Director of an association.  Recognizing that volunteers play a vital role in the outcome of your event is important to keep them engaged, build their satisfaction for the cause and helps you recruit future volunteers.

National Volunteer Week – April 10-16, 2016

2016 Danielle Jessup

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