Research by Volunteer Canada encourages us to think differently about how organizations recognize volunteers.
“Volunteers want to be thanked and shown how they have made a difference – they want to know the impact of their contributions.”
Volunteer Recognition Ideas
I remember greeting a volunteer by name, with a big smile and a brief touch on the arm. She went quiet, looked at me and said. ‘That is the first human touch I have had this week.’ – It was Friday.
Ideas from The Kelowna & District Society for People In Motion
- We host an annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner which features 6-8 volunteers at the dinner. We have up to 80 volunteers attend our annual dinner and hold the dinner during the National Volunteer Week.
- We send out personal thank you’s for all of the hard work and dedication they provide when performing specific tasks.
- Ongoing training during the year to keep our volunteers current to the programs and clients they are working with.
Ideas from our participants in the Workshop Series: Nourishing Managers of Volunteers – “The Love Languages of Volunteers: How to Speak Them Fluently”
- I received a personal phone call from the executive director thanking me for my volunteer services.
- I received a free art workshop on basic drawing
- I receive one or two 100 hour volunteer pins each year
- I volunteered for community May Day and received a special thank you from a grade one student.
- Individualized and personalized thank you cards that come with a $5 gift card to our local, wonderful coffee shop.
- The role itself is simple, but I learn so much through it and love the environment! A thoughtfully written personalized thank you card!
- Warm up your winter: in January we held a drop-in evening to come enjoy a bowl of soup with other volunteers (3 types of soup)
- Junior Auxiliary: a child receives a badge or a tie; Parent Advisory Committee President received acknowledgement/thank you from the school principal
- Volunteered for Fat Cat Children’s Festival: 8 month commitment celebrated the committee with houseboat tour and BBQ
- Organizing a Christmas hamper: meeting with a beautiful family who received it and seeing their gratitude.
- Serving breakfast at a homeless shelter: the individuals told me that the breakfast I served them made their day. I felt part of a team.
- My memorable moment volunteer recognition was receiving the civic award for Community Volunteer in Peachland for working with the two choirs, seniors choir and inter generational choir of seniors and K-1 split classes.
- Working with Corrections Canada many years ago, a man needed a ride to Penticton for methadone treatment. The coordinator couldn’t find anyone who wanted to take him due to his high risk nature. I decided to do it anyway and had an amazing talk with him. His appreciation was very meaningful and the coordinator’s thanks was through a certificate.
- Personal recognition throughout the year!
Ideas on behalf of the Crisis Line
- Having volunteers being recognized for their work by staff outside of their supervisor. This shows them that they are appreciated for the work they do by others.
- Sending out detailed thank you cards for specific instances in the work they do, rather than a generic thank you card.
- Having pins for volunteers after completing a certain amount of hours would be a great way to thank volunteers and show them their dedication.
Ideas on behalf of the Community Services department with Kelowna Community Resources
- I love ‘giving back’ to my volunteers. I show my appreciation by understanding their goals for their volunteer position, as well for other aspects of their life. Then I find ways that I can give back to each one individually.
- I like to share how their contributions have really helped our Community Services departments projects or workshops. My volunteers are genuinely interested in knowing how they make a difference.
- Make it year-round.
- Thank volunteers in-person, sincerely, and on an ongoing basis.
- Tell them how they have made a difference.
- Try ideas that build on volunteer motivations and preferences.
- Develop volunteer positions that use or develop their skills.
- Try a variety of ideas, even customize some for different volunteers.
- Enhance events with training, networking and celebration.
- Bring staff and volunteers together (include board members).
- Ensure volunteers feel welcome.