10 Creative Ways to Thank Volunteers

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A Great Volunteer Is Worth More Than You Think
According to the Independent Sector, the average value of volunteer’s time is $22.55/hr. For a volunteer that may have given 20 hrs a week for a year, that is a volunteer donation gift of more than $25,000 a year!

Just as donors receive recognition for their generous money donations, volunteers should also be recognized for their genuine generosity. There are countless ways to say thanks; here are a few ways to let your volunteers know how much you value their time.

  1. Make it a Surprise. Catch a volunteer in the act of volunteering by having his/her friends and family, along with fellow volunteers show up for a spontaneous celebration.
  2. Ask the principal’s involvement. Ask your school’s principal to give a special award to your volunteers.
  3. A photo speaks a thousand words. Capture your volunteer in the act with a camera. Not only does it give them personal acknowledgement but you can print and frame it later.
  4. Send a letter of thanks and recognition to the volunteer’s employer. This is a great way to say thanks to the working volunteer, especially when some of the donated time has been during regular business hours. It also speaks to the volunteer’s integrity and work ethic.
  5. Do something nice for the volunteer’s family. Give them tickets to an amusement park or a sporting event. After all, when one member of the family is volunteering for you, she or he can’t be with the family, so in that sense, the family is making a contribution as well.
  6. Post appreciation event photos on your website. Create a page on your school’s website that shows recognition to your volunteers.
  7. Share a gift of love. Ask students who your volunteer personally worked with (classroom helper, room parent, etc.) to craft personal gifts to give to volunteer.
  8. Send handwritten notes of appreciation. Not creative? In these days of email and texting and cell phones, handwritten notes, sent through the mail, are becoming increasingly rare. So when it happens, it’s noticed and appreciated.
  9. Host an event for the families of your volunteers. Try a picnic, a bowling party, hot air balloon rides, an ice cream social or some other fun-filled day.
  10. Host a “this is your life” event. Host a special recognition event for a longtime, retiring volunteer – like a PTO/PTA President. Invite fellow volunteers, the volunteer’s family, friends and associates as well as your nonprofit’s employees. Stage brief skits that re-enact milestone events from the volunteer’s life/career.
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