Have You Told Your Volunteers Lately How Much You Love Them?


I just learned about something called National Volunteer Week – celebrated in April in the U.S. and June in the U.K. and possibly other countries as well. What a great opportunity for a nonprofit organization to recognize and celebrate its volunteers!

If you are not engaging volunteers to support your work and mission, I strongly recommend doing so! After all, volunteers can help you grow your nonprofit – probably faster and more affordably than you could grow without them.

Volunteers can:

  • Deliver program support, office work or other assignments, thus saving you money by not having to hire additional staff
  • Do tasks that require a large number of people for a short amount of time, such as assemble mailings or provide event support
  • Provide expertise in specialized focus areas, for example legal advice, accounting knowledge or program-specific guidance (again saving money)
  • Provide specialized work that you need but can’t afford at the moment. This might include public relations, bookkeeping, landscaping, IT support, video production, social media management, grant writing, and more
  • And in the case of your board of directors, provide governance and fiscal responsibility for your nonprofit

Since volunteers, by definition, are not paid money for the work they do to support your mission, it seems especially important to recognize them, thank them and generally lavish them with love! You want them to stick around, right?

If you are thinking, ‘but we don’t have the funds for volunteer recognition,’ fear not. One of the wonderful things about gratitude is that it doesn’t need to cost a lot to make an impact.

Easy, inexpensive ideas for thanking your volunteers:

  • Handwritten thank you notes: With so many electronic communications, written notes and letters can really stand out
  • Thank you cards made by your students, clients, families, or others served by your organization
  • Thank you videos: One of my favorite ways to thank and recognize donors can be extended to volunteers

The best time to thank your volunteers? As soon as possible after their volunteer contribution, of course! Just like thanking your donors, the faster it happens, the greater its impact will be. Imagine if your event volunteers received a handwritten thank you note from a board member just days after the event? Or a handmade card from one of the students you serve?

Chances are, people who volunteer with you are not receiving prompt gestures of gratitude from other organizations for which they volunteer—which is good for making you stand out even more!

Everyone likes to be appreciated and you’d never want your volunteers to feel taken for granted. For more ideas, check out this post from my friend Sandy Rees, 15 Clever, Practical and Affordable Ideas for Thanking Volunteers.

What are your tips for thanking volunteers? Are you an expert on this topic or could you use a little brush-up? Please share your thoughts or experience in the Comments box below!

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