5 Fresh Volunteer Appreciation Ideas Your Org Should Try

Photo by Howie R on Unsplash

There’s a lot that goes into effectively managing your organization’s volunteers. Not only do you have to recruit individuals who are passionate about your cause, but you also have to screen them, train them in their roles, and oversee the work that they do. That’s a lot of work. Don’t let it go to waste — make sure you have a robust volunteer appreciation strategy!

It’s crucial for your organization to recognize your volunteers in their efforts to move your mission forward. Appreciation is critical for retaining existing volunteers and can greatly affect how your community perceives your organization and its volunteer program.

But sometimes, organizations can fall into a rut with their volunteer appreciation strategies, leaning on the same ideas again and again. After a while, instead of being meaningful demonstrations of how much your organization values its volunteers, these appreciation strategies can feel disingenuous and fall flat. 

To help your organization level up its approach to volunteer appreciation, we’ve rounded up five fresh appreciation ideas for you to try. Let’s jump right in!

Want to level up your volunteer management? Get started with POINT here.

1. eCards

eCards put a modern and eco-friendly spin on the traditional thank-you card. Instead of investing in physical cards and postage, you can design eCards that are branded to your organization and write personal messages to your volunteers that are delivered immediately. 

According to eCardWidget, once you’re set up with the right eCard tool, there are only three steps to getting started with appreciation eCards: 

  1. Customize your eCards. Make your eCards unique to your organization by adding your logo and other brand elements. 
  1. Sort your cards into different categories. For example, you might create cards specific to certain programs, events, or campaigns—whatever it is you want to thank your volunteer for helping with. 
  1. Push your eCards live. You can either add your eCards to your website (which is a great option if you intend to use eCards for other purposes, such as empowering donors to make donations on behalf of loved ones) or get a link to a live eCard page that you can use internally. 

As you send volunteer appreciation eCards, remember to leverage some thank-you note best practices. These include using volunteers’ first names, thanking them for their specific contributions, and inviting further involvement. 

2. Volunteer Appreciation Day 

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and organizations of all shapes and sizes are invited to celebrate the people who power their work. It’s the perfect opportunity for your organization to host a Volunteer Appreciation Day! 

Here are a few activities to consider planning for a Volunteer Appreciation Day: 

  • Appreciation Luncheon: Serve your volunteers a tasty meal to show them how grateful you are for their contributions. This will give your internal team the chance to interface with individual volunteers and learn more about their interests and why they love your cause. 
  • Wellness Activity: Show your volunteers that you care about their mental and physical well-being by incorporating a wellness activity into your Volunteer Appreciation Day. This will encourage your volunteers to take a moment to recharge after all their hard work for your cause. Your activity might be a nature walk, yoga class, or painting workshop—whatever you think your volunteers will find relaxing and enjoyable. 
  • Awards Ceremony: At the end of your Volunteer Appreciation Day, host an awards ceremony to recognize volunteers who have made a big difference to your organization and beneficiaries. You might award a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to the volunteer who has worked with you the longest or a “Volunteer of the Year” award. Each award recipient could receive a plaque or trophy (thrift old trophies or figurines to put an eco friendly spin on this!). 

Taking a day to celebrate your volunteers is a fun way to show them that they’re a priority to your organization. If you decide to host a Volunteer Appreciation Day, make sure to let your volunteers know about it in advance so that you can collect RSVPs and start planning! 

3. Showing Appreciation Through a Wall of Fame 

Similar to physical or virtual donor walls, a Wall of Fame gives your organization the chance to publicly recognize its volunteers. To set up your own, find a place in your organization’s facility or a spot on your website that can serve as your Wall of Fame, and create a design that is branded to your organization. 

Recognize your top volunteers by featuring them on your Wall of Fame. For each volunteer, you can include the following: 

  • Headshot
  • Photos of the volunteer working for your organization
  • Short bio 
  • Major accomplishments achieved in your volunteer program 

To give your wall an interactive twist, add a QR code (for physical Walls of Fame) or an easy-to-use form (for virtual Walls of Fame) where people can nominate others to be featured on the wall. This will encourage more individuals in your nonprofit’s community to have a hand in recognizing your volunteers. 

Additionally, ensure you receive permission from chosen volunteers before featuring them on the Wall of Fame. Some volunteers may prefer to be recognized in less-public ways.

4. Gift Baskets as Tokens of Volunteer Appreciation

Gift baskets are fun to put together, and even more fun for your volunteers to receive! The tangible items in your gift basket can serve as a strong reminder that your organization sees and values volunteers for their time and effort. 

Here are some fun items to include in volunteer appreciation gift baskets: 

  • Gift cards: Gift cards to local stores, coffee shops, or restaurants offer flexibility for your volunteers that empowers them to choose their reward. Plus, when you purchase gift cards from these businesses, you’ll be supporting your local community.
  • Branded merchandise: Include some of your organization’s branded merchandise in your gift baskets, such as t-shirts, hats, stickers, and keychains. Not only will these items remind your volunteers of your cause, but when they wear or use their branded items, they’ll be doing a little marketing for you, which can help with your volunteer recruitment efforts
  • Treats: Edible treats like fresh baked goods, chocolate, and wine are always fun to receive. Alternatively, you might include other treats like candles, notebooks, seeds, or small houseplants.

To add an extra personal touch to your gift baskets, you could include handwritten thank-you notes or deliver the baskets to your volunteers’ homes. This will help to humanize your appreciation efforts. 

Effective volunteer appreciation can lead to a stronger volunteer program for your organization as you’re able to retain loyal volunteers and encourage new volunteers to join your community. Keep things exciting by trying one of these fresh appreciation ideas today!

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About the Author

Tim Badolato

CEO at eCardWidget

Tim Badolato is the CEO of eCardWidget.com an innovative platform for digital employee recognition, donor acknowledgement, business marketing, and nonprofit marketing. He has a passion for using technology to drive positive outcomes for mission-driven businesses and nonprofits.

Photo Brandy Strand
Brandy Strand
Nonprofit Partnerships Account Executive

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.