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How to Communicate Volunteer Appreciation and Why it Matters
Volunteers are an invaluable resource for your nonprofit organization. Their time and commitment to your cause not only give your team the time to do more but also accelerates your organization’s goals by being able to expand your programs and host larger fundraisers. In fact, the estimated value for volunteer hours is $29.95 per hour, and this rate is up nearly 5% since 2020 and is only expected to rise.
That’s why practicing thoughtful volunteer stewardship is an absolute must. These individuals could give their time to any cause, but they chose yours! Make sure they know how much you appreciate the time and effort they dedicate to your mission.
In this guide, we will uncover key reasons why showing volunteer appreciation is essential as well as some practical communication methods that you can use to express gratitude. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ll cover:
- Why Showing Volunteer Appreciation Matters
- How to Foster Volunteer Appreciation Habits
- Volunteer Appreciation Ideas
Keep in mind that volunteers give because they receive positive benefits too, whether it’s meeting a certain amount of volunteer hours or just the fulfillment of being thanked for their hard work. Be mindful of why each volunteer gives their time, and look for ways to support them– like writing a letter of recommendation or agreeing to be a professional reference.
Managing volunteer relationships is all about making continued small efforts to show your appreciation. Without further ado, let’s discover some more reasons why showing volunteer appreciation matters in the first place.
Why Showing Volunteer Appreciation Matters
Unsurprisingly, volunteers are one of the groups that are most likely to be donors as well. They know the ins and outs of your organization, so they may be interested in helping you out in other ways in addition to volunteering. Therefore, maintaining high volunteer and donor retention rates is a practical reason for thanking your supporters.
However, aside from boosting retention rates, volunteer appreciation also accomplishes other meaningful objectives such as:
- Validating your volunteer’s hard work. Everyone likes to feel appreciated for their efforts, especially when they are freely volunteered. When you make an effort to communicate your appreciation, volunteers feel good about their contributions.
- Furthering a positive culture. You want your organization to be a place where volunteers and employees feel passionate and engaged to work. Expressing volunteer and employee appreciation boosts morale and builds a confident team spirit.
- Acting as advertising for your mission. Your volunteers are your organization’s best advocates. Their experiences act as word-of-mouth marketing for your organization, and they’re more likely to speak positively about your nonprofit if they feel valued.
The positive ripple effects of communicating volunteer appreciation are invaluable. Don’t miss an opportunity to motivate your team with gratitude by fostering appreciation habits that will see you through busy seasons.
How to Foster Volunteer Appreciation Habits
Habits are the key to sustaining long-term volunteer engagement. When volunteer appreciation is built into your organization’s mentality, you won’t even need to think twice about remembering to support your volunteers.
Here are some quick tips to make volunteer appreciation second nature:
- Get to know them. When volunteers give their time, make an effort to get to know them. Discovering volunteer interests can help you find ways to engage them that are relevant to their individual preferences and skills.
- Leverage different communication methods. Find and leverage your volunteer’s communication preferences. Some will respond better to email, others will prefer texts or phone calls. Nail down which volunteer prefers which method ahead of time, so you can plan the best way to reach them.
- Perfect your volunteer training program. Volunteer appreciation begins with thoughtful training and recruitment habits. Evaluate your volunteer training program and ensure that you are thanking volunteers preemptively and providing all the tools they need to succeed.
When you know your volunteers personally and prioritize communicating with them on a regular basis, you lay the groundwork for effectively expressing gratitude. With these habits in mind, acting on meaningful volunteer appreciation ideas will be second nature.
Volunteer Appreciation Ideas
According to Double the Donation, volunteer acknowledgment can take many forms, so try out a wide variety of appreciation ideas to see what works best for your volunteers. Everything from simple notes to full-blown events is an option to highlight your gratitude. Here are a couple of actionable appreciation ideas to get you started on the right path.
If a volunteer hits a large number of hours or has given valuable expertise on a fundraising project, write a personalized note to recognize their efforts. And now, with advancements in digital technology being grateful is easier than ever.
You can use eco-friendly eCard creation tools to send a customizable, speedy thank you card to deserving volunteers. It’s as simple as filling out your volunteer’s contact information, adding a personalized message, and pressing send.
Balance out your small appreciation efforts by going big with a meaningful volunteer appreciation event! Throw a small dinner party or host a large pot-luck to thank volunteers.
Choose a fun theme like a game night or center your event around celebrating an existing community festival. Invite volunteers and their families to mingle and learn more about your cause while celebrating the impact they’ve made.
Send Volunteer Gifts
Lastly, you can send meaningful volunteer gifts to show your appreciation. Branded merchandise, gift baskets, gift cards, and even special event perks can be ways to make volunteers feel appreciated.
Even better, you can use volunteer data to send them gifts for occasions unique to them, such as birthdays and anniversaries. That way, you can celebrate them on their big days, demonstrating your investment in them as an individual.
Recognizing volunteers for their hard work not only increases their retention rate, but it also produces a positive working environment that makes them want to come back again and again. Record your volunteer data in a reliable CRM, so you can keep track of volunteer communication preferences and details.
Don’t be afraid to try out new gratitude techniques, and take note of which ones made your volunteers feel most appreciated.
About the Author:
Tim Badolato, CEO of eCardWidget.com
Tim Badolato is the CEO of eCardWidget.com, an innovative platform for digital employee recognition, donor acknowledgement, business marketing, and nonprofit marketing. He has a passion for using technology to drive positive outcomes for mission-driven businesses and nonprofits.