How to Celebrate National Volunteer Week
Volunteer Week is an opportunity for community organizations to recognize volunteers for their selfless contributions and inspire new volunteers to get involved. This year, many volunteer programs are employing a combination of in-person, virtual, and remote volunteers.
So what does National Volunteer Week look like these days? Organizations can celebrate a meaningful volunteer appreciation week (and month) virtually using innovative and creative methods that still allow for community engagement opportunities and tons of positive feelings.
Here's what we'll learn:
- What Is National Volunteer Week?
- Why Should Organizations Celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week?
- How to Celebrate National Volunteer Week in Person
- Celebrate National Volunteer Week Virtually
- Boost Your Volunteer Management Process with Tech Tools
What Is National Volunteer Week?
National Volunteer Week, or Volunteer Recognition Week, gives organizations a chance to celebrate and thank the volunteers that donate their time and efforts to better the community. Each year, community-based organizations all over the United States celebrate National Volunteer Week during the third week of April.
April is also considered National Volunteer Month, and many community-based organizations dedicate the entire month to recognizing their volunteers and encouraging others to get involved. Other organizations focus their efforts on National Volunteer Week, but both give the opportunity to host special events and recognize the impacts volunteers have on the community at large.
Why Should Organizations Celebrate Volunteers Appreciation Week?
Volunteers provide immense value to the organization; their efforts are worth $29.95 an hour! By enlisting the help of volunteers throughout the year, your organization can direct even more resources and people-power toward your community programs.
If your volunteer program is struggling with high volunteer turnover rates, you’re certainly not alone! But high turnover rates can result in higher costs.
The good news is there are tried-and-true steps you can take to keep your volunteers happy and engaged.
One of the best ways to increase volunteer retention rates is through volunteer recognition. And there is no better time to do so than during National Volunteer Week!
Need help with volunteer retention, recognition, and recruitment? Get Connected can bring all of your tasks, tools, and volunteers together.
Learn More about Get Connected >>>
How to Celebrate National Volunteer Week With Limited Resources
How do you celebrate National Volunteer Week on a tight budget and with limited time?
Showing your volunteers appreciation with events and parties takes time to plan and gifts cost money. For this reason, some organizations skip out on celebrating national volunteer week altogether. At the same time, you don’t want volunteers to feel unappreciated.
There are some great budget-friendly volunteer appreciation gift ideas out there. We also happen to believe that investing in inexpensive, yet meaningful appreciation ideas can actually increase your return on investment…
How to Increase Volunteer Engagement During National Volunteer Week
Many organizations see a noticeable jump in interest during national volunteer week. Interest in volunteerism is amplified using social media (don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalVolunteerWeek).
Capitalize on this increased interest by recruiting new volunteers while celebrating those who have been working with the organization for months or years (which goes a long way in motivating all your volunteers to stick around!).
In other words, spending a little on celebrating national volunteer week can actually increase your return on investment!
How to Celebrate National Volunteer Appreciation Week In Person
There are plenty of ways to wish your volunteers a happy National Volunteer Week, especially if your organization can celebrate in person. Here are some of our favorite ideas for showing appreciation and encouraging volunteering in person:
Throw a Volunteer Recognition Week Party
While it can be tempting to host the typical volunteer banquet, formal volunteer dinners can seem impersonal. Instead, find a trendy venue like a local brewery or cafe to host a party. Add a few surprises and personal touches (like a performance from the local elementary school choir) and invite a guest speaker who knows your program to share a few words.
Award Your Most Dedicated Volunteers
Volunteer Week is about recognizing all contributions large and small. But you also want to show the volunteers you rely on most how much they matter to your program. Track volunteer hours throughout the year and recognize the volunteer who gave the most time.
In addition to the volunteer who logged the most hours, award the volunteers who:
- Showed up every week with a smile
- Brought their whole family to help every weekend
- Recruited new volunteers
- Displayed leadership qualities
- Built a sense of community
Or get creative and a bit silly. Your volunteers will love the personal touch.
Give Handwritten Cards
The most rewarding gifts are those that come from the heart. Invite clients and community members to make cards and write letters of thanks to volunteers, especially if your volunteers serve children or the elderly. Encourage personal anecdotes and a little creative freedom!
Host a National Volunteer Week Fair
A volunteer fair is a great way to recruit new supporters and introduce them to your programs, projects, and community partners. Partner with a local campus, community center, or business and bring the projects to them!
Highlight a Community Partner or Project
It takes lots of voices to build a better community. If you're celebrating National Volunteer Week, you could spotlight a project or community partner that does especially great work each day.
If your organization is celebrating National Volunteer Month highlights a stand-out partner each week.
Use your digital platforms to introduce your network to the cause and let volunteers know how they can get involved.
Share Your Impact
Inspire stakeholders and other volunteers by sharing your program's impact. Use a variety of media from your website to your social media channels (don't forget to use #nationalvolunteerweek) to share data, tell stories of volunteers and clients, and remind stakeholders of your mission.
Helpful hint: A volunteer management system will streamline—and even automate—volunteer data collection and reporting, so sharing impact has never been easier.
Traditionally, National Volunteer Week relied on interacting with your volunteers in person. However, many communities across the country have adopted virtual options to accommodate remote volunteers. With a few adaptations, you can continue to recognize and engage your volunteers virtually.
Celebrating National Volunteer Week Virtually
Moving the festivities online is about more than simply introducing a few virtual projects (though that is a great place to start). You'll also need to change how you normally promote your projects, register volunteers, and recognize your supporters.
Here are a few critical strategies for making the most of your virtual National Volunteer Week:
Create Virtual Volunteer Week Opportunities
There is no better way to celebrate national volunteer week virtually than by creating virtual volunteering options that current and new volunteers can participate in!
Start by taking a look at the needs of your community and generating a list of projects that your volunteers could do from home. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few ideas for different age groups:
Virtual Projects for Kids and Teens
Kids and teens can gain valuable experience by volunteering virtually, and it can be a rewarding experience for people to get involved in their community from an early age. Some great virtual projects for kids and teens can include:
- Web or phone buddies: Pair volunteers with seniors to help combat loneliness.
- Community learning: Invite children and teens to learn about community issues at home, to engage and inspire the next generation of changemakers.
- Teen-to-children mentorship: Pair a teen mentor with a younger child for academic or other mentoring.
Virtual Projects for Adults and Corporate Volunteers
Getting individuals or companies involved in National Volunteer Week is a great way to bring people together to fill in gaps throughout the community. Some of our favorite virtual projects for adults and corporate volunteers include:
- Financial planning: Work with businesses in your area to host a free financial planning webinar. Teach budgeting and money management basics, even free tax prep help for members of the community.
- Host a virtual job fair: Pair a volunteer with high school and college students or residents of local shelters. Volunteers provide virtual one-on-one guidance on basic interview skills and resume composition. Create a drop-off for lightly worn business attire, and consider how participants will access the tech needed.
- Tech donation: Invite corporate partners to collect old or unused computers for community centers, the local library, shelters, and other public spaces. Designate contact-free donation drop-off and pick-up locations.
Family-Friendly Virtual Projects
Getting the whole family involved can be an excellent way to spend quality time together and make an impact on the community. Some great family-friendly virtual projects include:
- Virtual storytime: Invite families to record themselves reading their favorite stories. Collect the videos and post them on Youtube. Work with schools, teachers, and other community partners to get virtual storytime in the hands of under-served children. Extra points for creativity!
- At-home 5K: The families that walk (or run) together, stay together! Take your annual 5K fundraiser online. Families can run together in their own time and record their experiences. Don't forget to have a system in place for collecting donations online.
- Neighbor Care Packages: Families can bond over building care packages for elderly or home-bound community members.
Many people and groups want to get involved in volunteering, but they may just need some direction from organizations like yours. By offering these opportunities to volunteers, you can help get more people involved in your organization and increase your impact during National Volunteer Week and beyond!
There are lots of virtual volunteer opportunity ideas out there. Remember, any remote project can become more engaging when accomplished together. So, invite volunteers to connect with friends virtually while they work!
If your volunteers love knitting blankets for the local NICU, why not organize a virtual knitting circle? It's a simple modification that can make all the difference in helping volunteers feel connected to your organization–and each other!
Thank Volunteers with Digital Gifts
You may not be able to give all your volunteers a gift in person, but you can give your remote supporters something equally-thoughtful to help them feel valued.
Send a digital gift card to a beloved local cafe or bakery. And just because your volunteers are virtual, doesn't mean you should overlook "old-fashioned" snail mail. Receiving a hand-written card feels extra special these days.
Take to Social Media
If you already have a social media strategy, you'll know how important it is to engage with your community online.
Plan a post for each day leading up to and during volunteer week: announce a new virtual project, invite new participants to get involved with a catchy call-to-action, feature a superstar volunteer, or share your program's volunteer impact!
Don't forget to highlight the event on your website and use the #NationalVolunteerWeek hashtag!
Send Out Surveys
Another great way to honor your volunteers? Let them know their voice matters.
Send a digital survey to your volunteers and invite them to share their feedback: What motivates your volunteers to participate? What changes to the program do they want to see in the future?
Then, use their feedback to evaluate your current practices. You'll show volunteers that you're invested in their success in addition to your organization's success.
Invest in Your Volunteer Management Process
Paper sign-in sheets or outdated volunteer software don't cut it for virtual volunteer week or for organizations that are expanding their volunteer bases. Now is the perfect time to update your management technology to embrace virtual volunteerism! Consider upgrading these management areas:
Volunteer Recruitment and Registration
When volunteering goes virtual, you'll need to make sure your online volunteer management processes are up to speed. And an outdated website will only slow you down. You don't want your volunteers to spend time searching for how to get involved with your virtual Volunteer Month or Week.
A volunteer management system can help simplify the online volunteer recruitment and registration process. Especially during special events like Volunteer Month, you'll want volunteers to locate projects, register online, and self-schedule with ease.
As you know, operating remotely means communication logistics become a bit more complicated. But keeping your volunteers informed doesn't have to be time-consuming.
If you use a CRM or volunteer management software, create a segment just for virtual volunteers so you can quickly target your communications. You may also consider text messaging (or SMS) to manage lots of volunteers and get people on board during the volunteer week rush! People tend to read and respond to text messages at high rates, making texts a reliable way to get the news out fast.
Tracking volunteer attendance becomes much trickier without in-person check-in. But you don't want to lose out on ever-important data that comes with tracking volunteer participation.
So, you'll need to provide volunteers with clear instructions on checking in to their shifts remotely and logging volunteer hours through an online system.
If this sounds like nothing short of a nightmare, it may be time for a system upgrade. Look for a volunteer mobile app designed for tracking attendance, even when your volunteers are remote.
Boost Your Volunteer Management Process with Tech Tools
It's easy to put off upgrading your organization's volunteer management system with all of the other tasks on your plate, but investing in volunteer management software can not only help you manage volunteers more efficiently, you’ll also build community.
Thousands of organizations trust Get Connected by Galaxy Digital to manage volunteers. Get a FREE demo of Get Connected to see how it can help your organization too!