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Thank you sign

Volunteer Recognition Tips

“Volunteers want to be thanked and shown how they have made a difference – they want to know the impact of their contributions.” ~ Volunteer Canada 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study

Although National Volunteer Week takes place every April, it is important that we provide ongoing recognition and appreciation of our volunteers throughout the year. We all have a role to play in ensuring that our volunteers know the impact of their contributions to our programs and activities. Every department has its own unique volunteer culture, so it’s important to find ways that will be most meaningful to the volunteers in your program.

Perhaps you can make it a topic at one of your team meetings and make a plan for the year. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Really simple things:

  1. Always greet your volunteers by name.
  2. Share the results of program evaluations with volunteers so they can see their impact on clients and programs.
  3. Join your volunteer on a coffee or lunch break and get to know them a little better.
  4. Check in with volunteers about their volunteer “assignments” and solicit honest feedback about their experience with the organization.
  5. Keep track of when volunteers start with your program and wish them a “Happy Anniversary.”
  6. Include volunteers in any celebrations that your team enjoys.

Pretty simple things:

  1. Send at least one written thank-you note each year. It can be from you or from one of your program participants. Volunteers consistently identify this as the most meaningful recognition they can receive. Children and youth can get especially creative and artistic with their thank you!
  2. Make it a group project to create a volunteer scrapbook throughout the year for your program. Have staff and clients write comments and quotes about the difference volunteers make. Make copies and present them to your volunteers at the end of the year.
  3. Make A Round of Applause. Take a simple piece of paper, cut into a circle with a photo of the staff cheering and space for “to,” “from,” “why,” and the date. Anytime, you want to say thank you to a volunteer for something special – give them a “round.”
  4. Take pictures of your volunteers in action and send them along to the person in your organization that manages volunteers. (Make sure you have a photo release of those in the picture). There are often opportunities to share pictures of volunteers on website and in media stories.

Dale Gellatly is the Director of Community Engagement and Carizon Family and Community Services.