April is National Volunteer Month. But, waiting annually to celebrate your volunteer accomplishments isn’t best practice. You should be acknowledging volunteer contributions and achievements year-round. Similpy thanking helpers for donating their time can be all they need. Taking the time to thank members for their contributions can motivate them to do even more great work for your school, non-profit, or organization.
But, some volunteer coordinators forget how far a thank-you can go. If you find yourself stuck on what you should be doing to keep your volunteers coming back, we’ve got plenty of resources and ideas for you to properly thank your volunteer group.
If you are unsure about the answers to any of the questions above, then you know you have room for improvement. It’s been mentioned before, and we’ll repeat it; people are your greatest asset. When it comes to running a successful volunteer program, acknowledgment is the stepping stone to volunteer retention and happy volunteers.
Thank-you will go a long way when given authentically. Check out these five ways you can acknowledge volunteers and increase volunteer retention.
There shouldn’t be any generalization in your thank-you’s when you are telling volunteers of your appreciation. In your newsletters, email blasts, social media posts, and in-person, try to leave out “Thank you to everyone for…” In theory, it seems appropriate. However, those kinds of generalized thank-yous are not as powerful as a personal thank-you.
How to Personalize Thank-You
Show your volunteers that you appreciate their work by giving them a handwritten thank-you note. Use the volunteer’s name and customize it by thanking them for a specific contribution they made (ex. gathering donations, serving x amount of time at an event, referring other volunteers, etc…)
Alternatively, after an event, thank volunteers individually for donating their time. These kinds of thank-yous generate authentic relationships and will make volunteers feel valued.
We can all admit that we enjoy when others remember our birthday. By acknowledging volunteers birthday’s, volunteers will feel that you care and know them. During the volunteer application process ask for applicants birth dates. This is the easiest way to document volunteer birthdays. Acknowledge each volunteer’s special day by giving them a birthday card and a small goodie.
Gift volunteers for their time and expertise. Let them know their contribution didn’t go unnoticed and the organization understands the time sacrifice they made to help. You can give volunteers swag or gift cards to show your gratitude.
We’ll admit it, providing food for volunteers really is the key to happy helpers. Reward your volunteers for donating their time by feeding them! By providing snacks and/or a meal for volunteers, you will boost volunteer morale and engagement.
Track your organization’s volunteer data. By tracking information you can refer back to the data like volunteer retention, the number of volunteer hours, or volunteer engaged. You can use a volunteer management software to track all of this information and more to fit your organization’s needs. Tracking volunteer data will help you segment volunteers and communication with them efficiently.
Once you’ve organized this data, you can utilize it to add up the total contribution volunteers are making to your volunteer program. Tally the annual number of hours your volunteers give to your school, non-profit, or organization. You can calculate the total cost saved by utilizing volunteers for programs that otherwise would be cut if not for the contributions of volunteers. Include these facts and statistics in your newsletter, it will send a powerful message to stakeholders of your organization.
Be sure to acknowledge your volunteers often. Alongside these five tips make sure to hold an annual awards night to honor the hard work donated by volunteers. And don’t forget to give gratitude to your volunteers throughout the month of April and celebrate National Volunteer Week on April 15th – 21st.