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.

One thought on “Volunteer Recognition Comes in All Shapes & Sizes!

  1. Number 1 – saying THANK YOU – this can’t be said enough in my book and nos 9, asking for feedback is also essential for continuous improvement. My experience has shown that volunteers really value their feedback being implemented wherever possible. Our event volunteers for the Royal Adelaide Show are presented with certificates of appreciation at a ‘Thank You’ morning tea and are provided with uniform and a commemorative pin badge. Just some of the ways to say thank you. 🙂


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