It’s the age-old question: What can I do to show how much I care?  National Volunteer Week is a time to encourage, recognize, and inspire people to take action, make a difference, and be a part of social change within communities.  While this week allows the nation to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers make, it is also important to celebrate volunteers every week.

Ten Tips to Recognize Volunteers

  1. Involve your volunteers in trainings, conferences, seminars, or workshops or other professional or leadership development opportunities.
  2. Send handwritten notes thanking volunteers for their contributions.  Be sure to personalize them for each volunteer.  Samples.
  3. Post pictures or articles of volunteers and their contributions on social media sites, newsletters, and in a prominent location in your office.  Example.
  4. Invite volunteers for coffee or lunch and discuss their professional and personal motivations and goals.  Here is a new perspective to consider while learning more about your volunteers.
  5. Nominate a volunteer or volunteer team of the month – award them with a certificate, letter, trophy or small gift.  Here is one organization’s recognition program.
  6. Convene social events to encourage volunteers to engage with one another.
  7. Pitch a story to local media outlets about your volunteers’ accomplishments and impactful contributions.  An example article on the work of volunteers fighting Medicare fraud.
  8. Nominate volunteers for local or national awards.  See next week’s email update for two national award ideas!
  9. Host an annual volunteer recognition event.  Be creative.  Make it special.  Examples of some unique events.
  10. Create opportunities for volunteers to lead and train other volunteers, or be the spokesperson for your organization.  Ideas how.

When it comes to recognizing volunteers’ contributions, recognition that is tailored to the specific volunteer allows the community and staff to show their appreciation for all of the volunteers’ contributions in a meaningful and personal way.  Beyond the specific volunteer, there are different characteristics for types of volunteers worth considering.

Traditional Volunteers

Volunteers who participate in traditional volunteer programs often are proud of the number of hours they volunteer.  To thank them for the time they spend volunteering, consider these perks:

  • Awards and awards ceremonies
  • Events: Parties, luncheons, dinners and other planned or formal events.
  • Volunteer Day, Week or Month
  • Gifts, often imprinted with the organization’s logo
  • Photos posted on a wall of fame
  • Pins
  • Certificates

Skilled Volunteers

Skilled volunteers take pride in the impact they are making on their programs. They may appreciate these acknowledgements:

  • A thank-you letter from the organization they are serving.
  • Seeing a list of their accomplishments presented to the organization’s board or staff.
  • Having articles about their projects and contributions published by the organization or in local media.
  • Invitations to join the organization for special events or activities or to present at its conference.
  • Offers to attend workshops or trainings.
  • Invitations to special events in the area.
  • Discounts at local businesses.
  • An invitation to return for more volunteering (a sign of genuine appreciation)


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