April is National Volunteer Month and a great chance to celebrate those who serve others. Showing appreciation helps retain volunteers, grow your volunteer base, and allows your 501(c)3 to thrive. Wondering how to thank volunteers? We have five fun, easy, inexpensive volunteer appreciation ideas that are sure to leave your volunteer team feeling special and inspired. From volunteer appreciation gifts to fun games with prizes, these tips will leave your volunteers feeling valued and encourage others to step up to service within your community.
What’s National Volunteer Month About?
Started in 1943 in Canada and in 1974 in the United States, the holiday encourages awareness of the important role volunteers play in our communities. The benefits of volunteerism include:
- More connected community and sense of responsibility
- Civic engagement and empowerment
- Increase in compassion, less division, more inclusion
- Breakdown of barriers and misconceptions
- Safer community for all
Volunteerism is about contributing what we can and caring about our fellow humans, plants, and animals. Big or small, each person who volunteers is pushing us forward as leaders in humanity. Volunteering takes grit and strength and moves us out of our comfort zone. When you show volunteer appreciation, you shine light on the path that other volunteers will travel as well.
1. How to Thank Volunteers with Games and Prizes
- Raffle: Have a raffle at volunteer events during National Volunteer Month. Offer extra entries for volunteers who bring friends and family. Prizes can be big or small, but any gift will serve the purpose of drawing attention to the stars driving your non-profit day by day.
- Competition: Award prizes for volunteers according to hours or events during the month or on a regular basis. Have volunteers track their hours on a shared sheet and encourage a little friendly competition among the team. For every hour or event logged, include an entry for a chance to win a grand prize such as a gift card, night out, or weekend getaway.
2. Volunteer Appreciation Ideas to Grow Your Base
- Publicity: When recognizing superstar volunteers, maximize exposure by posting to your website and social media profiles. Work with your email team to include snippets about individual volunteers as part of weekly or monthly donor outreach. Those who donate cash are rewarded by seeing the people turning their monetary gift into action, and might be inspired to donate their own time as well.
- Gifts: Give volunteers thank you gifts like promotional totes and customized drinkware that they can use while out and about, advertising your cause as you show you care.
3. Awards Ceremony and Volunteer of the Week/Month/Year
- Ceremony: Set aside a date for a special lunch or dinner where your volunteers can feel pampered. Leave a customized “thank you” gift at their table to take with them as a souvenir.
- Recognition: Honor volunteers who have gone above and beyond in terms of hours, events, dedication, or special attention to underserved individuals.
4. Group Outing
- Event: Invite key volunteers on a special outing such as whale watching, a concert, or a private tour of a local attraction
- Education: Arrange for volunteers to attend a special lecture or workshop to provide additional depth or intersections of topics related to your non-profit, such as politics and homelessness, food insecurity and community gardens, education and inclusion.
5. Volunteer Appreciation Gifts
Help spread the word with promotional giveaways that include your logo and slogan, and a nod to the volunteers driving your non-profit’s success. Order extras, because you’ll find these come in handy among donors and at fundraising events, as well:
Make sure they know you care, and everyone around them knows about your charity, with customized drinkware.
11 oz. White Ceramic Coffee Mug
Full Color 20 oz. Speedy Colored Bike Bottle
These stylish, low-cost leaders make it easy to thank volunteers while promoting your brand. To make sure your message hits home, choose a Design Wrap style and include the “thank you” template as your barrel design.
Elite Cirrus Pen
Design Wrap Superball Pen
Design Wrap Value Stick Pen
Volunteering requires a lot of organizing and notetaking. Make it easy for your volunteers to get the job done with this pad and pen set, customized with your words of appreciation.
Spiral Jotter & Pen
Outdoor Totes & Lights
For outdoor events, include a handy tote to lighten the load and light the way for every volunteer:
Polyester Drawstring Bag
3-in-1 Chrissy Tote Bag & Backpack
Soft Touch 3 LED Flashlight Keychain
More on Volunteer Appreciation
For more ideas and inspiration, check out these blogs: