Home » How to Celebrate National Volunteer Week in 2022
Volunteer Week is an opportunity for community organizations to recognize volunteers for their selfless contributions and inspire new volunteers to get involved.
But what does National Volunteer Week look like in 2022? Many volunteer programs are operating differently these days, employing a combination of in-person, virtual, and remote volunteers.
So we’ve compiled ideas for celebrating a virtual National Volunteer Week (and month)–without missing out on the good feelings and community engagement opportunities.
Before we jump into our recommendations for a virtual Volunteer Week, let’s review what a “typical” volunteer month or week may look like for volunteer programs.
Here’s the lowdown on all things Volunteer Week and Volunteer Month.
National Volunteer Week is a time to celebrate volunteers, recognize their impact, and encourage volunteerism in our communities.
National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 by the United States government. Today, the holiday is organized by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Community-based organizations across the country celebrate National Volunteer Week as a way to recognize “the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges.”
National Volunteer Week can also be referred to as “Volunteer Appreciation Week” or “Volunteer Recognition Week.”
When is National Volunteer Week?
National Volunteer Week occurs annually in the third week of April. National Volunteer Week 2022 is April 17 – April 23.
Some organizations choose to extend National Volunteer Week and instead prefer to celebrate National Volunteer Month. Like Volunteer Week, Volunteer Month is a time to recognize volunteers and encourage volunteerism. The extended schedule allows organizations to add more special events and opportunities for supporters to get involved.
Some organizations may also choose to incorporate a Volunteer Appreciation Week during the month of April as part of National Volunteer Month. Volunteer Appreciation Week focuses strictly on recognizing and appreciating volunteers. (We’ll cover volunteer appreciation ideas below.)
Volunteer Month is also referred to as “Community Service Month,” “Volunteer Appreciation Month,” “Volunteer Recognition Month,” or “Volunteerism Month.”
When is National Volunteer Month?
National Volunteer Month takes place throughout the month of April.
According to the Urban Institute’s most recent data, Americans volunteer 8.8 billion hours annually. Volunteers help organizations like yours fill critical gaps in service for nearly every community in the U.S. Without our nation’s volunteers, we wouldn’t have some of the programs that many communities rely on today.
National Volunteer Week began as–and continues to be–a national holiday that formalizes the recognition of volunteers in our communities. Organizations of all scopes and sizes should take the time to thank our neighbors, strangers, friends, and family who selflessly give their time to help others.
Some organizations find they see an increase in engagement during the week or month of April, and many organizations choose to ramp up their marketing efforts in the weeks prior. National Volunteer Month or Week is a great opportunity to draw attention to a particular volunteer project or event. It’s also a perfect time to highlight programs and community partners who help you accomplish great work.
The main purpose of National Volunteer Week (or month) is to recognize volunteers for the incredible impact they have on your community. And volunteer programs are especially attuned to the benefits of volunteer recognition. Many volunteer programs dedicate the week or month to highlighting a special project or particular initiative to boost volunteer participation and community involvement.
Here are some ways volunteer programs can appreciate volunteers and bolster engagement:
Kick off the week or month by thanking your volunteers with these volunteer appreciation ideas.
There are plenty of ways to thank your volunteers. Most importantly, your volunteer appreciation ideas don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Make your “thank yous” personal and sincere.
The holiday is also a great time to promote your program and exciting new volunteer projects. Here are some more ways to boost engagement with your organization.
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.
Moving national volunteer week (or month) online is about more than simply introducing a few virtual projects (but it’s a great place to start). You’ll also need to make some changes to the way you normally promote your projects, register volunteers, and recognize your supporters.
Is your organization ready to take on Virtual Volunteer Week in 2022?
We’ve got you covered with these adaptations for celebrating Volunteer Week virtually!
To pull off a virtual volunteer week, you’ll need to reconsider your traditional Volunteer Week events and opportunities. Start by assessing the needs in your community, and brainstorm a list of projects that your volunteers can do from home.
Virtual Projects for Children and Teens:
Virtual Projects for Corporate Volunteers:
Family-Friendly Virtual Projects:
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!
Your volunteers probably look forward to Volunteer Month or Week each year. Virtual Volunteer Week still has plenty to offer, but give it some time to gain traction. Fortunately, news travels fast online, so with a little planning, promoting your event may be simpler than you think.
Here are three simple steps you can take to promote virtual Volunteer Month or Week:
Many people love the social benefits of volunteering, especially during a time that celebrates volunteer participation! Plus, organizations benefit from happier volunteers and more hands on deck! So, even if your volunteers are taking part remotely, think of creative ways to encourage group volunteerism.
Here’s how to encourage group volunteerism:
Do you currently have a system for registering families, teams, and even large groups? If your online sign-up process gets a little messy when it comes to registering teams, you may need to rethink the tools you’re using.
Other Considerations for Simple Team Registration:
Create a tailored volunteering experience for your corporate volunteers and university groups. Develop unique, private projects for large groups. Your volunteer management system may even allow you to create private access to and easy registration for opportunities specifically for groups.
Pro Tip: Volunteer Week is a great time to welcome new volunteers. Take the opportunity to establish fresh corporate partnerships by reaching out to local businesses with employee volunteer programs. Work with the company to provide unique virtual opportunities just for employees. These partnerships lend well to long-term engagement because both parties benefit!
During Volunteer Week, organizations may see increased interest from families who want to get involved together. Make sure to offer plenty of family-friendly volunteer projects (see our virtual family-friendly project ideas above). As with team-friendly activities, group your family-friendly projects together in one location on your site so they’re easy to find and register for.
Paper sign-in sheets won’t cut it for virtual volunteer week. Now is the perfect time to update your management technology to embrace virtual volunteerism! Consider upgrading these management areas:
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 also don’t want your volunteers to have to go 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). People tend to read and respond to text messages at high rates, making SMS 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 shift 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.
We gave you plenty of volunteer appreciation ideas for your in-person Volunteer Week. But how can you recognize volunteers virtually?
You may not be able to give all your volunteers a gift in person, but you can give your remote supporters something equally-thoughtful. 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.
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 for 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.
Whether your program celebrates your volunteers in-person or virtually, thoughtful planning and a few adaptations are the keys to success.
Happy National Volunteer Week, everyone!
Author: Addison Waters
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