Recognition Ideas for Volunteers

VolunteerImpact-300Be encouraged. It’s not about money. It’s about impact.

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.

Best Practices

  • 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.

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