Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thanking Your Volunteers

Volunteers are an incredibly precious resource for nonprofits. That's why it's so important to make sure they never feel like their hard work is not going unappreciated. So when it comes to thanking your volunteers, here's a rule you should follow: Don't wait until the end.

When a volunteer feels appreciated, it increases their morale. Whether someone has high or low morale can be the difference between someone who is productive and someone who is not. In his book "The Idiot's Guide to Recruiting and Managing Volunteers," John L. Lipp wrote that it is important to make your volunteers feel welcomed from the beginning. Waiting until they leave to say "thanks" won't do you much good.

With this in mind, Lipp suggested 10 easy ways to integrate volunteer recognition activities into your organization:

  • Get name badges for your office volunteers.
  • Have an annual "Design the Volunteer T-Shirt" contest and use the winning design as that year's shirt for special events. Long-term volunteers will be able to wear their t-shirts from past years.
  • Have a small budget? Ask a local company to pay for having volunteer t-shirts printed in exchange for having their logo tastefully printed on the shirt.
  • Have a "Volunteer of the Month" and post his or her personal story on your web page.
  • Ask a volunteer if he or she would like to take a 15-minute coffee or snack break with you.
  • Create holidays in honor of your long-term office volunteers.
  • Name rooms or office equipment after outstanding volunteers.
  • Schedule a monthly drop-in potluck for volunteers who work in the field but would like to get to know one another in a social setting.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper making a statement of gratitude to all of your volunteers.
  • If you send a regular newsletter to your volunteers, include an "Above and Beyond" section where you publicly acknowledge individual volunteers for specific actions.

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