Giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Whether it's through donations, time, or energy, volunteers are the lifeblood of many organizations. That’s why it’s important that volunteer leaders demonstrate their appreciation.
Benefits of Showing Appreciation to Your Volunteers
There are lots of benefits to thanking and recognizing your volunteers. But some of the key benefits of appreciating your volunteers include:
- Enhancing volunteer morale and productivity
- Increasing volunteer retention and satisfaction
- Encouraging new volunteers to join
- Boosting volunteer engagement
A little creativity can go a long way when showing appreciation for volunteers. So, how can we show our gratitude for these amazing people?
Check out these meaningful volunteer gift ideas that are sure to make an impact…
1. Personalized Thank You Card for Volunteers
This is one of the simplest volunteer gift ideas to show appreciation and it's very budget-friendly.
Follow these guidelines for how to create a personalized thank-you card:
- Choose a card that reflects the volunteer's personality and includes a personal message. Thank the volunteer for their specific contribution, and let them know how much their help meant to you and the organization.
- Add a photo. Including a photo of the volunteer with the people they helped or the event they assisted with is a great way to show your appreciation.
- Send the card promptly. Timing is everything when it comes to thank-you cards, send them within a few days of the volunteer's help.
2. Small Custom-Made Gift for Volunteers
Custom-made gifts for volunteers can go a long way in showing your appreciation. Follow these steps to create custom gifts for your volunteers:
- Decide what kind of gift you want to give. Something personal and unique is always best. It can be anything from a simple card with a handwritten message to a more elaborate gift, such as a custom-made book or jewelry.
- Procure the materials you need. This can be as simple as heading to a local craft store or ordering supplies online.
- Create the gift. Get creative and put your own personal touch on it.
Present the gift to your volunteers with a heartfelt thank you.
3. A Day Off
Your volunteers work hard. So why not give them so much-needed rest? This can be a great way to show your appreciation and give them a chance to relax and recharge. Here are a few ideas for giving your volunteers a day off:
- Choose a date that works for everyone. Make sure to give your volunteers sufficient notice so they can clear their schedules.
- Have a backup plan. Volunteers may not be able to take a day off on the date you choose, so it's important to have a backup plan in place.
- Get creative. A day off doesn't have to be a traditional day off. Get creative and come up with something fun and relaxing for your volunteers.
4. A Party for Your Volunteer Team
Throwing a party is also one of the great volunteer gift ideas. This can be a simple affair, like a pizza party, or something more elaborate.
Start with the basics; choose a date, time, and venue that will work for most of your volunteers (weekends are usually best). Send out invitations in advance to allow your volunteers plenty of notice. Don’t forget the food and drinks! If you're on a budget, consider potluck style, and invite staff, community members, and volunteers to share their favorite recipes.
5. A Plaque, Certificate, or Weekly Volunteer Award
You can offer a plaque or certificate to volunteers who go above and beyond or have been with your organization for a long time. You can use a free online design tool to create attractive, branded designs that match your organization's image. Don’t forget to highlight their achievement in large, bold font so your volunteers can display their certificates proudly.
6. Special Events and Volunteer-Only Raffle Tickets
Another way to gift your volunteers is to invite them to special events, like galas or fundraisers. During the event, show appreciation with a "volunteer-only" raffle program. Offer tickets based on the number of volunteer hours they serve in a given time period. This makes the volunteers excited about the idea of winning a prize for their devotion to your mission.
7. A Gift Basket
Choose a basket that is both practical and stylish. It should be something that the volunteer can use and enjoy. Fill the basket with items that the volunteer can use daily. Consider items like a mug, tea, or coffee from your local cafe, or personalized stationery and pens. Send the basket to the volunteer's home or office as a surprise to make it even more enjoyable.
8. A Special Mention to Volunteer Leaders
Give a special shout-out to your stand-out volunteers. Here are some tips on how to do it:
- Choose the right platform. There are many platforms (like your website or Facebook) that you can use to recognize your volunteers. Choose one that is easy to use and has a wide reach.
- Publicly recognize your volunteers in a manner that is befitting of their efforts. This could include announcing their names at a meeting, sending them a personal thank you note, or giving them a small gift.
- Take the time to get to know your volunteers and learn about their interests and passions. This will help you to tailor your recognition to them as an individual and make it all the more meaningful.
- Offer a discount. Offer a discount on your products or services as a way to thank your volunteers for their time and efforts.
9. Volunteer Training Opportunities
While most volunteers are motivated by the satisfaction of serving, they also appreciate opportunities to learn new skills and grow their abilities.
Offering training opportunities is a great way to show appreciation for volunteers. By providing training relevant to their interests and needs, you can help them develop new skills and knowledge that will be valuable to them personally and to the organization they support. Here are a few tips on how to offer training opportunities as volunteer appreciation gifts:
- Find out what training opportunities your volunteers would be interested in. You can do this by sending out a survey or simply asking them directly.
- Once you know what training opportunities your volunteers are interested in, start planning. Make sure to give yourself enough time to plan and prepare for the training.
- Promote the training opportunity for your volunteers. Let them know when and where the training will be taking place and what they'll be learning.
- Make sure the training is enjoyable and beneficial for your volunteers. This is their volunteer appreciation gift, after all.
- Follow up with your volunteers after the training. Ask them how they found the experience and if they have suggestions for improvement.
10. A Coupon for a Free Service
Give a gift certificate for anything from a free massage to a free car wash. Think about the local establishments and services that mean the most to your volunteers!
Remember the following when procuring a free service for your volunteers:
- Ensure to choose a service that is appropriate for your volunteers. If you are not sure what they would like, ask them.
- Procure the service in advance so that you can be sure to have it available when your volunteers need it.
- Let your volunteers know about the free service in advance so that they can take advantage of it.
11. A Subscription to a Magazine or Online Service
Here are a few tips on how to create a subscription gift that your volunteers will love:
- Choose a magazine or online service that your volunteers will use and enjoy. For example, you may give a subscription to a cooking magazine for your food pantry volunteers or a subscription to an online gardening service for your community garden volunteers.
- Create a subscription card or certificate that you can present to your volunteers along with the subscription. This will make the gift feel more personal and appreciated.
12. A Gift Card to Their Favorite Restaurant or Store
Gift cards are a great way to appreciate them and let them treat themselves. Support local businesses by choosing a community-based restaurant or store. Send the gift card to your volunteers with a personalized thank-you note.
When to Give Gifts to Volunteers
There are times when it might be most appropriate to give appreciation gifts for volunteers. For example, if someone has been volunteering for a long time and is about to leave the organization, a gift may be a nice way to thank them for all their hard work.
Alternatively, if a volunteer has made an especially large impact on a project, a gift is a great way to recognize their efforts.
Remember, don't have to give volunteer gifts all the time. Sometimes, a simple thank you is all that's needed. But, if you're thinking about gifting, make sure to do it at a time when it will be appreciated and won't be seen as an obligation.