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National Volunteer Week Ideas to Celebrate Your Volunteers

The why and how organizations are recognizing volunteerism during this national holiday

Free Volunteer Appreciation Toolkit

How to Celebrate National Volunteer Week

Volunteer Week, especially National Volunteer Week 2024, allows community organizations to recognize volunteers for their contributions and inspire new volunteers to get involved. This year, many volunteer programs are employing a combination of in-person, virtual, and remote volunteers. 

What does National Volunteer Week look like these days? Organizations can celebrate a meaningful Volunteer Recognition Week virtually using innovative and creative methods that allow for community engagement opportunities and positive feelings. 

National Volunteer Week, often celebrated during April, Happy Volunteer Month, is crucial for recognizing volunteers' immense contributions. It's a time for organizations to express gratitude for the commitment and dedication of volunteers, which is vital for maintaining a motivated base. Recognition varies from awards and public acknowledgments to personal thank-you notes and special events celebrating their efforts.

The week also focuses on engaging volunteers in meaningful activities and skill development, reinforcing the full lifecycle of volunteerism. Proclamation 10370 says this cycle is vital for personal and community growth. Adapting to diverse volunteering methods, including virtual opportunities, is essential. Innovative approaches like virtual events and online recognition platforms effectively celebrate and engage volunteers, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility.

Here's what we'll learn:

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What Is National Volunteer Week?

National Volunteer Week, also known as Volunteer Recognition Week and National Volunteer Appreciation Week, is a time-honored tradition in the United States dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating the efforts of volunteers who generously donate their time and skills to contribute to their communities.

This particular week, often queried as "When is Volunteer Week?" falls during the third week of April each year, with the 2024 observance, National Volunteer Week 2024, scheduled from April 21st to April 27th. The significance of this week extends beyond mere recognition. It's a period of reflection, celebration, and inspiration, fostering a deeper appreciation for the spirit of volunteerism.

Over the years, subsequent presidents, government agencies, and community organizations have continued supporting and promoting this week, each adding their contributions to its evolution and impact.

April is also designated National Volunteer Month, offering an extended period for organizations to focus on volunteer recognition. This month-long observance allows for a more comprehensive celebration and acknowledgment of volunteers.

Community-based organizations across the country take this opportunity to host special events, award ceremonies, and public acknowledgments to highlight the invaluable contributions of their volunteers. These events range from small, intimate gatherings to large-scale public events, each uniquely designed to suit the organization's mission and the community it serves.

During National Volunteer Week and Month, organizations often engage in various activities to honor their volunteers. These can include:

  • Appreciation luncheons
  • Volunteer awards
  • Public recognition in local media
  • Special projects or events that highlight the work of volunteers
  • Share stories of exceptional volunteers
  • Recognize their contributions
  • Inspire others to get involved

Furthermore, National Volunteer Week is an opportune moment for organizations to reflect on their volunteer management practices. It's time to assess how they recruit, train, and retain volunteers, ensuring these vital contributors feel valued and supported. This reflection often leads to implementing new strategies or enhancing existing ones to improve the overall volunteer experience.

National Volunteer Week is marked by governmental proclamations and statements that underscore the importance of volunteerism in society. These proclamations often highlight the economic and social value, emphasizing how volunteers are instrumental in addressing various community challenges and needs.

Why Should Organizations Celebrate Volunteers' Appreciation Week?

By bringing volunteers on board all year long, organizations can really boost their impact on community projects. It's amazing how much volunteers add to the mix—they're not just extra hands, but they're key players in driving positive change in the community. And get this: their hard work is valued at a whopping $29.95 an hour! That's a testament to how much they contribute, not just in time and effort, but in making a real difference in people's lives.

You're not alone if your volunteer program struggles with high turnover rates. However, these high turnover rates can lead to increased costs.

The good news is that there are practical 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's no better time to do this than during National Volunteer Week, especially National Volunteer Week 2024!

During National Volunteer Week, volunteer appreciation focuses beyond mere recognition. It's an opportunity to highlight the multifaceted benefits that volunteering brings to individuals, which is the essence of what National Volunteer Week is about. 

Volunteers contribute their time and experience personal growth by developing new skills and building stronger connections with their communities. This growth benefits the volunteers and enhances their value to your organization and the community.

Moreover, engaging in volunteer activities can have health benefits, especially for older volunteers, adding another value to volunteer programs. This aspect of volunteering highlights the holistic benefits beyond mere community service.

The celebration of National Volunteer Week also reinforces the full lifecycle of volunteerism. Active volunteers often deepen their involvement in community activities, and recognizing their efforts during this week can encourage this cycle, leading to a more engaged and committed volunteer base. 

This understanding is crucial for volunteer managers, as fostering a culture of appreciation can significantly boost volunteer morale and retention.

Creating opportunities for growth by offering diverse roles and training engages volunteers' varying interests and skills, making their experience more fulfilling. This approach is essential for keeping volunteers motivated and connected to the cause.

National Volunteer Week also serves as a pivotal time to build a community of volunteers. By sharing volunteer stories and experiences, organizations can inspire and attract new volunteers, fostering a vibrant and supportive network. This community-building aspect is crucial for the sustainability of volunteer-driven programs, embodying the spirit of Happy 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, especially when resources are tight and time is limited?

Organizing grand events and parties for volunteer appreciation during National Volunteer Week can be costly and time-consuming. For this reason, some organizations may hesitate to celebrate National Volunteer Week. However, it's crucial to ensure volunteers feel appreciated. 

Numerous budget-friendly volunteer appreciation gift ideas can be highly effective. Investing in inexpensive yet meaningful appreciation methods during National Volunteer Appreciation Week can yield a significant return on investment…

How to Increase Volunteer Engagement During National Volunteer Week

Many organizations observe a noticeable increase in interest during National Volunteer Week. The enthusiasm for volunteerism can be amplified through social media, particularly with the hashtag #NationalVolunteerWeek.

This period offers a prime opportunity to recruit new volunteers while celebrating existing ones, which is essential in motivating all your volunteers.

In essence, dedicating resources, even if minimal, to celebrating National Volunteer Week can have long-lasting benefits, increasing your return on investment in volunteer engagement.

How to Increase Volunteer Engagement During National Volunteer Week

Many organizations observe a noticeable increase in interest during National Volunteer Week. The enthusiasm for volunteerism can be amplified through social media, particularly with the hashtag #NationalVolunteerWeek.

This period offers a prime opportunity to recruit new volunteers while celebrating existing ones, which is essential in motivating all your volunteers.

In essence, dedicating resources, even if minimal, to celebrating National Volunteer Week can have long-lasting benefits, increasing your return on investment in volunteer engagement.

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! 

Download a Toolkit for Volunteer Appreciation! 

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

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 highlight 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.

Prepping and Planning for National Volunteer Week

To ensure a successful and enjoyable National Volunteer Week, it's essential to start planning early. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Set Clear Goals: Determine what you want to achieve during this week. Is it volunteer recognition, community awareness, or recruitment of new volunteers? Setting clear goals will guide your activities and events.
  • Engage Your Team: Involve your staff and current volunteers in planning. They can offer valuable insights and help in executing the plans.
  • Create a Schedule of Events: Plan various weekly activities to keep volunteers engaged. This could include award ceremonies, appreciation events, and community service projects.
  • Promote Your Events: Use your organization's website, social media, newsletters, and local media to promote your events. This attracts participants and raises awareness of your organization's work.
  • Prepare Materials and Resources: Ensure you have all the materials and resources for your events. This includes awards, certificates, promotional materials, and any tools or equipment needed for volunteer projects.
  • Follow-Up Post-Event: After the week, follow up with participants to thank them for their involvement and gather feedback. This can help improve future events and maintain engagement with your volunteers.

Celebrating Volunteerism Throughout the Year

To extend the spirit of National Volunteer Week throughout the year, consider the following:

  • Monthly Volunteer Spotlights: Each month, feature a volunteer or a group of volunteers on your website and social media. This not only recognizes their efforts but also inspires others.
  • Volunteer Development Workshops: Offer workshops or training sessions for volunteers. This shows appreciation for their efforts and invests in their personal and professional development.
  • Special Recognition for Milestone Contributions: Acknowledge volunteers who reach significant milestones in their service, such as hours contributed or years of service.
  • Engage in Community Events: Participate in local community events as a group. This not only serves the community but also builds team spirit among volunteers.
  • Volunteer Feedback Surveys: Regularly gather feedback from your volunteers. This shows that you value their opinions and are committed to improving their experience.

Innovative Volunteer Opportunities

To enhance volunteer engagement and cater to diverse interests and abilities, consider these innovative volunteer opportunities:

  • Skill-Based Volunteering: Match volunteers with roles that use their professional skills. This can be more fulfilling for the volunteer and more beneficial for your organization.
  • Micro-Volunteering: Offer small, one-time tasks that can be completed quickly. This is great for people who want to contribute but have limited time.
  • Virtual Volunteering: For remote or international volunteers, provide opportunities to contribute online.

Innovative Celebrations by Nonprofit Organizations During National Volunteer Week

To inspire your celebrations during National Volunteer Week, here are examples of how various nonprofit organizations creatively honor their volunteers:

Prepping and Planning for National Volunteer Week with Specific Examples

Effective preparation and planning are key to a successful National Volunteer Week. Here's how some organizations have exemplified this with specific strategies:

  • Early Coordination with Partners: For example, a nonprofit might collaborate with local businesses for venue sponsorships or guest speakers, as seen in Habitat for Humanity's build days.
  • Engaging Volunteers in Planning: Similar to how local libraries involve volunteers in leading activities, getting input from volunteers can lead to more meaningful and engaging events.
  • Diverse Event Planning: Taking inspiration from organizations like Feeding America and WWF, plan a range of activities that cater to different interests and skills of volunteers.
  • Promotional Strategy: Utilize social media and community networks for promotion, akin to the Red Cross's sharing of volunteer stories.
  • Post-Event Engagement: Follow the example of United Way's Day of Action by sharing the impact and stories post-event to maintain engagement and appreciation.

By incorporating these ideas, you can celebrate volunteers' time, energy, and importance throughout the year, creating a culture of appreciation and recognition beyond National Volunteer Week.

 Download FREE Volunteer Appreciation Week templates >>

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 alleviate 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 writing. 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 children in the community. 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.

Enhancing National Volunteer Week Celebrations

To make National Volunteer Week more impactful and engaging, consider these strategies that encompass reflection, storytelling, and community involvement:

  1. Historical Reflection and Impact Analysis
  • Begin the week with an event or online post reflecting on National Volunteer Week's history. Share statistics like the 8.8 billion hours volunteered annually in the U.S. to highlight the massive impact of volunteerism.
  1. Diverse Volunteer Stories Showcase
  • Create a digital campaign or a series of community events where volunteers from different backgrounds share their unique stories and experiences. This could include a mix of online blogs, video testimonials, and live storytelling sessions.
  1. Leadership Engagement and Inspirational Messages
  • Invite local leaders or well-known personalities to deliver motivational speeches or write messages celebrating the spirit of volunteerism. These could be shared through social media, webinars, or in-person gatherings.
  1. Skill Development Workshops for Volunteers
  • Organize workshops or online seminars focusing on skill enhancement, personal growth, and professional development for volunteers. Topics could range from leadership skills to effective communication.
  1. Age-Inclusive Volunteer Opportunities
  • Design volunteer activities specifically tailored for different age groups. For example, tech workshops led by younger volunteers for seniors or environmental projects where children and teens can participate.
  1. Storytelling and Experience Sharing Platform
  • Develop a dedicated platform, such as a website or a social media group, where volunteers can continuously share their experiences, challenges, and successes. This could serve as a source of inspiration and community building.
  1. Year-Round Engagement Initiatives
  • Announce new, ongoing volunteer projects or initiatives during National Volunteer Week to encourage sustained volunteer engagement throughout the year.
  1. Comprehensive Planning for National Volunteer Week
  • Start planning months, incorporating feedback and ideas from diverse volunteers. Ensure that the events and activities align with a unifying theme that resonates with the community.
  1. Collaborations and Partnerships:
  • Forge partnerships with local businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations to expand the reach and resources available for National Volunteer Week activities.

By integrating these strategies, National Volunteer Week can become a more dynamic, engaging, and meaningful celebration that honors volunteers' contributions and inspires ongoing community involvement and personal growth.

Download Volunteer Appreciation Week Templates! 

Invest in Your Volunteer Management Process

As we approach National Volunteer Week, we must ask, "What is National Volunteer Week?" and understand its significance in enhancing volunteer management processes. Paper sign-in sheets or outdated volunteer software don't cut it for National Volunteer Week or organizations 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, especially during National Volunteer Week, you must ensure 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 online volunteer recruitment and registration. Especially during special events like National Volunteer Week, you'll want volunteers to locate projects quickly, register online, and self-schedule. It's essential to remember when is National Volunteer Week, to plan effectively.

Volunteer Communication

Operating remotely means communication logistics become more complicated. But keeping your volunteers informed during Volunteer's Week 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. Text messaging (or SMS) to manage many volunteers and get people on board during the Volunteer's 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. Remember, "When is Volunteer Week?" is a common question, so communicate the dates.

Volunteer Attendance

Tracking volunteer attendance becomes much trickier without in-person check-in, especially during events like Volunteer's Week. But you want to ensure you get all the essential data from 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 during National Volunteer Week.

It may be time for a system upgrade if this sounds like nothing short of a nightmare. Look for a volunteer mobile app designed to track attendance, even when your volunteers are remote during Volunteer Week. Remember, knowing "When is National Volunteer Week?" helps plan these upgrades.

Free Download: Volunteer Appreciation Week Templates

Organizing Volunteer Week Events with Volunteer Management Tech Tool

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. With volunteer week approaching, having a robust system becomes crucial.

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!

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