Volunteers are the heart and soul of non-profit organizations. In 2018, Americans volunteered over 6 billion hours towards organizations, not counting all the types of informal volunteering. With this in mind, organizations must find ways to thank volunteers and keep them coming back.
Ways to Thank Your Volunteers
You’ve finally figured out sustainable ways to increase your volunteer support for your cause. Now you’re given the task of how to thank them after events properly. While you might have said a heartfelt thank you to them on their way out the door, sometimes a bit more is needed to make your volunteers feel appreciated.
Here are three easy ways to thank your volunteers and let them know just how much impact they made on you and your organization.
Thank You Cards
Thank you cards are the tried and true method of thanking volunteers for their hard work. Although it may take more time, consider handwriting these thank you cards if possible.
In the age of digital cards and text messages, a handwritten thank you card will likely tug at the heartstrings of your volunteers. The card should mention what they did during the event and how it impacted the organization for the better. You’ll be surprised by the results.
Gift Cards or Coupons
Gift cards and coupons are small tokens of appreciation that you can give your volunteers. It can be as small as a $5 or $10 gift card to a famous coffee shop in the area, but it will mean something to them.
If you’re at a loss for what stores or restaurants to include, reach out to members of the community. Many people may offer you gift cards for free or some at a discount that you can use to reward your volunteers’ efforts after an event.
Wall of Volunteers
If you have the room for it, why not create a Wall of Volunteers that’s visible to everyone coming into your building or office space? You can encourage existing volunteers to send in photos or drawings of themselves to display.
New and potential volunteers will be met by a wall of smiling faces every time they enter the office, and they’ll likely want to be featured on the wall as well. It builds morale and encourages volunteers. What more could you want?
Highlight Volunteer Stories on Your Website
Everyone has a story to tell. Although it may take a while to get to all the volunteers in your organization, try and highlight one volunteer story a week on your website. Featuring their story shows personal interest in your volunteers and that you care about their life outside of volunteering.
Take some time out of your day to sit down with the volunteer, whether virtually or in person, and interview them yourself. The volunteer will feel honored to tell their story, and it could even move others to volunteer after reading it.
Another direction you could take is through social media. After highlighting a volunteer’s story, allow them to take over the social media profile for the day. They can give followers a behind-the-scenes look at what a typical day of volunteering will include.
For their final post, they can invite followers to ask questions and direct them to your organization’s website to find out more about your cause. Social media appeals to a different crowd and can prick the attention of those unaware of your non-profit.
Ideas to Incentivize Volunteers
Retaining volunteers creates a sense of family within the organization, as seeing the same faces allows people to build lasting relationships with one another. However, incentivizing volunteers to return is much easier said than done. You want them to feel motivated to sign up, but keeping them coming back is entirely different.
Provide Meals for Volunteers
Who doesn’t like to eat? Something that might be holding volunteers back from attending events is having to figure out what they’ll eat during the day. Providing volunteers with food while they work shows them that you genuinely care about their well-being.
They have something to look forward to during the day, and it’ll keep them energized during their shifts at your event. To appeal to all your volunteers, try and offer vegan and vegetarian options if possible.
Flexible Scheduling Options
Convenient and flexible scheduling is a strong incentive for many repeat volunteers. Although they may have rearranged their schedule to attend an event, this doesn’t mean they can always do so.
Allowing volunteers to have a clear idea of when they can volunteer will move them to sign up. Organizations can achieve this through shift scheduling or even through a drop-in schedule.
Others choose to let volunteers log into a portal and claim shifts at their convenience. Whatever method you decide to go with, letting first-time volunteers know that you’re willing to work around their life will likely move them to come back.
Another way to get volunteers excited about their work is to let them know how it affects the community. Organizations can do this through a monthly or bi-weekly newsletter. In it, you can provide volunteers with updates, plans, an outline of future events, or even have a volunteer spotlight section!
Get Involved with AFYC
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