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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for Your Volunteer

As a volunteer manager, you’re likely approached from time to time for a letter of recommendation. Whether this recommendation letter is for college admissions, a scholarship application, or employment, volunteer managers should recognize the inherent responsibility in agreeing to write one for a volunteer. Indeed, these letters can help shape the life-path of the volunteer.

Volunteer recommendation letters offer a more personal insight than what is presented in a standard application or CV. Rather, these letters typically include the positive qualities, values, and skills witnessed by the author, and how these experiences have uniquely poised the volunteer to excel in the position for which they are applying.

While the trend of volunteer recommendation letters is somewhat new, gatekeepers in academia and the workforce are becoming more keen to how volunteer work can positively influence an applicant. As a volunteer manager, therefore, these requests are likely to become more frequent. But don’t worry–we’ve got you! Make sure you bookmark this page, because we’re going to share everything you need to know about writing a stellar volunteer recommendation letter, and we’ll even share a template to get you started!

Article Contents

What is a volunteer recommendation letter
Why are volunteer letters of recommendation important?
How to write a letter of recommendation for a volunteer
Sample letter of recommendation template

What is a volunteer recommendation letter?

In the simplest terms, a volunteer recommendation letter describes the volunteer work done by a community member. These letters typically communicate the positive attributes and skills that the volunteer brought to the organization, as well as the author’s overall impression of the volunteer.

Volunteer managers typically write these letters at the volunteer’s request. Letters of recommendation can help bolster a volunteer’s application to a university, a scholarship, or even a full-time job, while also communicating important insights into the applicant’s values, skills, and interests.

  • Court-mandated service
  • Grant applications
  • Work
  • School or University
  • Scholarship applications
  • Board or committee applications

Why are volunteer letters of recommendation important?

Letters of recommendation are important because they act as social proof of the positive contributions of the volunteer. Because the recipient is usually a hiring manager or a university admissions officer, letters of recommendation can be pivotal in your volunteer landing a new job or earning a scholarship. Furthermore, the specific details of a recommendation letter can help paint a fuller picture of the applicant that may be hard to visualize through standard applications alone.

How to write a letter of recommendation for a volunteer

The different components of your recommendation letter will differ based on the specific requests of the volunteer, as well as the place the letter is going. But in general, you will want to include the following sections:

  • Heading. Before you begin writing, determine to whom you should address the letter. From there, add the recipient’s name, organization, mailing address, and contact information in the top left corner of the document. Make sure to also include the date.

  • Greeting. Begin your letter by greeting the recipient, followed by their name. For example, “Hello Ms. Mewing.” If you are unsure who will receive the letter, you can simply address the letter “To Whom It May Concern.” In most cases, however, it is more impactful to address the letter to someone directly. Ask your volunteer for this information beforehand.

  • Statement of Purpose. Following the greeting, you should include a brief introduction of who you are and why you are writing this letter. Explain your relationship with the recomendee, your job title, and the organization that you are part of. You might also briefly paint a picture of your organization by including your mission statement or by describing your nonprofit’s programs. This can serve two purposes. Firstly, it serves to hook the reader by offering a personalized look at your organization. Secondly, it provides credibility to the note by explaining your role in the organization and relationship to the volunteer.

  • Specific Examples. After you have described who you are and what your organization does in the community, it is time to share why you think your volunteer is a good fit for the scholarship, job, promotion, etc. Include personal anecdotes of your time leading the volunteer, any specific data about their accomplishments (for instance, dollars raised or hours volunteered), and any other relevant stories that illustrate the good works of the volunteer. Be genuine and specific in this part of the volunteer recommendation letter. Make sure to also include any accomplishments or skills the volunteer developed by working with your organization.

  • Conclusion. In your concluding remarks, summarize the reasons why you are recommending this volunteer and why you think they will be a good fit for the opportunity. This is your final opportunity to leave an impact on the reader and cultivate a positive impression of the volunteer.

  • Signature. Sign the letter with a professional closing such as “Sincerely,” or “Best Wishes,” followed by a space and then your name. If you plan on mailing a physical copy of the letter, allow for some space to include your signature.

After you have double checked the recipient information and carefully edited the letter, it is time to send it. Ask your volunteer for submission instructions–they should be able to provide you with this information.

Sample letter of recommendation template

This following volunteer letter of recommendation template is for someone who might be applying for a job, a scholarship, or a university, and would like to showcase their philanthropic work:

[Recipient name]

[Company name]
[Street Address]
[City, State Zip Code]
[Insert date]

Dear [insert recipient name],

I am writing this recommendation on behalf of [insert first and last name], who has volunteered with [name of organization] for the past [amount of time spent volunteering]. [First name] was dedicated to our mission to [insert mission statement or brief description of the organization], and was an invaluable member of our volunteer team.

In my capacity as [specify your job title or volunteer role] with [name of organization], I supervised [first name] while they [include list of activities or volunteer roles of the applicant]. [First name] proved themselves to be [include positive traits that you witnessed, such as responsible, hard-working, etc]. I was particularly impressed by them when they [include specific examples that demonstrated positive traits, such as when they were patient while tutoring children, showed leadership while leading a summer program, etc]. 

Based on my personal working experience with [first name], I recommend them without hesitation for [specify the scholarship, job title, university name, etc]. I sincerely believe they would thrive if given this opportunity.

Feel free to contact me at [phone number] and/or [email address] if I may answer any further questions.

Best Wishes,

[First and Last name of Author]
[Job title]
[Organization name]

Though volunteer letters of recommendation are a somewhat new trend, requests are likely to become more frequent as the world recognizes the skills that can be built through volunteerism. We suggest you save this page and return to it as needed to make letter writing a breeze! 


Additional Resources

How to Build a Nonprofit Leadership Mentoring Program

Word-of-Mouth Recruitment: How to Leverage Volunteers to Promote Your Program

Gen Z: How to Engage the Next Generation of Volunteers

How to Write Irresistible Volunteer Opportunity Descriptions




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