31 Days of Giving

giving quote

I feel year round I am a pretty giving person, but we can always do more. This holiday season, I will be posting ways that I am giving back on a daily basis in hopes that others will be inspired and follow me on this journey. Some may cost money, others are free, could be my time, or a simple act of kindness. As the saying goes “It is better to give than to receive.”

Let the giving begin!


It’s All About the Music


Do you put together a photo slide show for your agency’s volunteer recognition event? I do one every year, and it is one of the volunteer’s favorite things to see at our annual banquet.

To make a good video you have to think year round and collect lots of great pictures of your volunteers and staff in action. Having pictures that capture all aspects of your agency really makes for the best photo slide show.

You don’t need any fancy programs. I use Windows Live Music Maker on my pc to make our video. I know Macs have a free program, or this would be a great intern project for someone in video production if you want to get fancy.

You have your photos, now to put it to music. This is the part I struggle with every year. Volunteers can only hear “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler so many times.

Here are my TOP TEN songs for volunteer video slide shows that I have used.

  1. “People Loving People” by Garth Brooks
  2. “Heartlines” by Florence and the Machine
  3. “I Lived” by One Republic
  4. “Once in a While” by Billy Dean
  5. “Best day of my Life” by American Authors
  6. “Diamonds” by Rihanna
  7. “We all Need” by Rob Anthony
  8. “Get Together” by The Youngbloods
  9. “You Gotta Love” by Rob Anthony
  10. The Classic –—  “Lean on Me” by Billy Withers

Volunteer Recognition Comes in All Shapes & Sizes!


This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to celebrate and honor almost 100 volunteers at our agencies Celebration of Support event for volunteers, donors and community partners. This was a formal event, with a sit down dinner and the evening concluded with recognition awards given for exceptional service. It was a wonderful event filled with amazing stories and energy.

What do you perceive as a gratitude of thanks? There is no right or wrong answer, which is why volunteer recognition must be a mixed bag of showing our appreciation and thanks.

Recognition comes in many different forms, and volunteers value recognition in different ways.  A verbal thank you, a hand written note, a little token of appreciation, a birthday/anniversary card, a formal recognition event.  All of these ideas are great ways to say thank you.

Here is a list of some of my  top 10 ways to show appreciation and recognition all year-long to your volunteer work force:

  1. Always say Thank YOU!
  2. Have a smile on your face when working with volunteers. Volunteers are coming into your organization to help others. They don’t want to hear you complain about your co-workers, other volunteers or problems in your life.
  3. Create a comfortable working environment or create their own space to call home.
  4. Send a birthday card. Go one step further and have it signed by all your staff and other volunteers they may work with.
  5. Recognize anniversary dates.
  6. If you see an article about a volunteer (or donor) cut it out and send it to them with a note of congratulations.
  7. If you know about a loss of a family member, illness, or if they are just going through a hard time – send them a note of encouragement, a single flower, cup of coffee….. just a simple thing to let them know you are thinking of them during this time.
  8. Comment on a volunteers Facebook page with “Great job today” or “Thank you for volunteering”. This also shows their friends and family the good work they are doing within your organization.
  9. Show interest and get feedback. Ask volunteers “Are there ways we can improve things, how can we improve your volunteer work, etc?
  10. Provide a name badge or some type of logo apparel.

Beside the last one, none of these tips cost much to an organization. The thing is this cannot just be the culture of just the Volunteer Department.  To be extremely effective, this should be the culture of your entire organization.

Please share your ideas and other simple but meaningful ways to say thank you and to show volunteers they are appreciated.