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How to Create a Volunteer Appreciation Speech

Use this simple template to create meaningful appreciation speeches for your volunteers

Writing a thank you speech for volunteers can be quite a challenging undertaking. You want to give them the credit they deserve, and recognize their efforts. At the same time, you might not know how to sufficiently thank the team without favoritism or keeping the future in mind.

It takes time to learn how to create an effective volunteer appreciation speech. And yet, especially if you show your volunteer appreciation at events, it's a crucial part of the larger effort.

Fortunately, a few shortcuts can help you to get started. In this guide, you'll learn about the components of the right thank you speech, along with some ways to make your thank you speech for volunteers more engaging for everyone who listens. We'll end with some examples you can draw from as you look to show your appreciation to everyone who helped in an initiative.

What are the Components of an Effective Appreciation Speech?

Every great volunteer appreciation speech consists of five core elements:

  1. The Welcome
  2. Volunteer Program Overview
  3. Volunteer Program Accomplishments
  4. Recognizing Specific Volunteers
  5. The Closing

Of course, how you fill in those elements is up to you. The content of these components can make your speeches both unique and memorable, whether you're showing appreciation for church volunteers or recognizing your museum's volunteer curators.

1. Welcome the Audience

A great opener captures your audience's attention from the beginning. Consider starting with a memorable quote related to volunteering, or a statistic showing the impact your volunteers have made in the organization.

Once everyone is paying attention, introduce yourself. Let your audience know exactly where you stand in the organization, and how that work connects to volunteer work. Welcome the volunteers, and remind everyone why you're here. 

2. Provide a Program Overview

Your reminder of the reason for the speech can seamlessly transition into an overview of the volunteer program you're recognizing. Chances are that your core audience already knows these details but especially if you have other members of the organization in the audience, this overview can serve as a crucial reminder about what you're here to recognize.

In a few words, you can share the mission of the volunteer program as well as its scope. Discuss the projects that couldn't have been possible without volunteers. Paint a picture of the importance of the program, which makes recognition and appreciation that much more tangible.

3. Highlight Volunteer Program Accomplishments

It's time for the heart of the speech; sharing the specific accomplishments that the volunteer program accomplished in the current time frame. Depending on the type of work your volunteers do, that can include any number of things:

  • The impact the program has made on the community
  • The number of people who volunteered
  • The ways in which the program benefited the organization

The key here is getting across that volunteers weren't just a nice add-on to your organization's key work. Instead, their work made a difference, without which your organization could not be where it stands today.

4. Recognize Specific Volunteers

General accomplishments offer a natural opportunity to transition into specific recognition. Successful volunteer engagement can depend on these types of recognition, which can give participants a sense of accomplishment even if they didn't receive monetary compensation.

These recognitions, of course, should tie closely into your larger volunteer management program. The speech might be the perfect opportunity to present awards for volunteer of the year or the highest hours of participation in the chapter. Any individual recognitions, of course, should be additive to the general praise and avoid offending volunteers who may not receive these honors. 

5. Close the Speech

When it's time for your speech to wrap up, reiterate the key points you've already gotten across about the impact the program has made on the organization and the community. Then, offer one last round of thanks to everyone involved (asking the volunteers to stand up for an ovation can be a nice touch) and end the speech on a high note.

4 Ways to Make Your Appreciation Speech for Volunteers More Engaging

The right structure, of course, is only part of creating a great volunteer appreciation speech. Once you have all the baseline content in place, consider enhancing your speech with these four tips and tactics:

  1. Tell a Story. Human beings are innate storytellers, and they love to hear a good story as well. Integrate personal stories and experiences into your speech where you can to keep their attention and make the content more relatable.
  2. Describe the Impact. There is no such thing as too much discussion about the impact the volunteer program has made. As you can, use both statistics and anecdotal evidence to describe how your organization, its audience, and the community have changed for the better thanks to your volunteers. 
  3. Envision the Future. Paint a picture. What does the success of the volunteer program mean for the future? How could it expand even further to make an even bigger impact? Looking forward turns straightforward volunteer appreciation into a vision everyone can buy into.
  4. Practice in a mirror. Looking at yourself while practicing your speech helps with a lot of the typical quirks of public speaking. You'll find yourself making more intentional movements, enunciating more clearly, and avoiding fillers even as you learn to read less from notes and speak more freely.

3 Volunteer Appreciation Speech Examples to Follow

Of course, all of the above components and tips are still theoretical. Sometimes, it helps to read how others have approached this same type of task in your stead. These three thank you speech for volunteers examples can provide some inspiration and give you an idea of where to take your own remarks.

These are just some of the countless ways in which you can form the above component into an engaging, heartfelt speech. The result: remarks that make your volunteers feel truly appreciated and ready to tackle the next challenge on behalf of your organization.

Need more help with volunteer appreciation, engagement, and recruitment? Get Connected can bring your tasks, tools, and volunteers together. 

Learn more about Get Connected >>>

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