What are the best ways to show volunteers you are grateful for their engagement with your team? We take a deeper look.
If your mission is the heart of your organization, your volunteers are the soul. They donate their time, money, and skills to help you make an impact in your community and bring your mission to life. Are you celebrating their commitment to your cause?
Volunteer appreciation varies from organization to organization. How you recognize your volunteers depends on your budget and the number of volunteers that serve with you. It probably goes without saying, but we’ll remind you anyway, people who volunteer aren’t in it for the glory. They volunteer because they truly care about leaving the world better than they found it. However, a little bit of volunteer appreciation can go a long way.
When it comes to rewarding your volunteers for their dedicated work it is important to have a system in place to indicate how they earn rewards. These qualifying indicators with help you manage your volunteer appreciation program more easily.
Volunteer hours are a good way to track the time any given volunteer spends serving with your organization. They are also a great way to incentivize volunteers. Use their volunteer hours as reward benchmarks. If they serve 20 hours, they can redeem those hours for one reward. If they serve 40 hours, they can redeem for a higher tiered reward.
Another easy way to authorize their rewards is to simply keep track of the number of service events they participate in. If they complete a certain amount of volunteer opportunities in a given amount of time, they can earn a gift. Measuring the frequency of their volunteer participation is a fair way to track their attendance.
Speaking of fair, that is precisely why you need a solution to track your volunteer reward program benefits. If a volunteer raises questions about their reward, or lack there of, you will have a proven system to give them answers. You will be able to easily reference the qualification guidelines and can let volunteers know if they have or haven’t met the criteria to redeem time for rewards.
There are many ways you can carry out your volunteer recognition, which include rewarding volunteers with prizes and/or experiences. Prizes serve as material incentives while experience-based rewards are more about advancing skills or team building.
Using one method or the other is a good way to thank volunteers for their efforts. But, don’t be afraid to create a hybrid volunteer appreciation program that allows volunteers a broader range of rewards to choose from.
Rewarding your volunteers with prizes gives them a tangible reminder of your appreciation. Some gifts volunteers enjoy earning are items, donations in their name, and gift cards.
Volunteer appreciation gift items may consist of purchased or donated items. They also don’t have to be extravagant. Tokens of appreciation like cookbooks, t-shirts, or gift bags show volunteers that you are thankful for their work with your organization. One of the more creative volunteer gifts we discovered was a “volunteer yearbook.” Encourage your volunteers to submit pictures they take from events and, along with pictures your organization takes, compile them into a “yearbook” to share with your volunteers celebrating the impact you all made that year. This can even be done through a free Canva account where you can create slideshows, video highlights and more.
Some volunteers may be looking for a reward that allows them to give back even more. Programs like our signature VOMO Rewards let your volunteers redeem their Volunteer Hours for donations. VOMO will make a donation in their name to one of four non-profits, or they can choose to donate back to your own organization.
If you aren’t sure what to get a volunteer, let them choose on their own. Gift cards are a great way to give volunteers control over their rewards. Gift cards also happen to be the most preferred volunteer appreciation gift among volunteers.
Giving volunteers the option of redeeming volunteer hours for a gift card offers a level of convenience that other volunteer gift options do not. You can give volunteers physical gift cards which can be used in-person or online. However, you can also reward your volunteers with e-gift cards that they can load onto apps or into their digital wallets. Some popular gift cards volunteers redeem their volunteer hours for include Starbucks, Cinemark, Buffalo Wild Wings, and more.
While tangible volunteer appreciation efforts are great, they aren’t the only option. Some volunteers may be more concerned with team building or furthering their skills within your organization. Show your volunteers how thankful you are for their dedication through experience-based rewards.
Plan a group event such as a movie night or team picnic to celebrate everything your volunteers have done that month, quarter, or year. This will give your volunteers an opportunity to bond outside of service projects while honoring their efforts within your organization. Based on how frequently you host the event, you can take the time to recognize your volunteer of the month, quarter, or year.
You can also recognize your volunteers’ time by offering them different roles within your organization. For instance, if a volunteer repeatedly serves with your organization, offer to make them a volunteer crew leader. Or, if they are faithful in their skills-based volunteering, give them the opportunity to hone their craft by letting them lead a group that involves that skill.
Whichever method you choose to show your volunteers you appreciate them, be sure to include the words “thank you.” A heartfelt thank you can go a lot further than any prize or experience.
Have you been searching endlessly, meeting internally to talk ideas on engaging specific generations of volunteers? Check out our free flip book with insights ready to help you facilitate ideas.