That week always seems to creep up on me and I need to make plans for the celebration and come up with brilliant and “low-cost or cost-free” ways to honor volunteers. Also, it needs to be NOT a “labor intensive” promotion.
National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 under President Richard Nixon. In subsequent years it has grown substantially under the leadership of the Points of Light. It is seen as an opportunity to recognize and thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes they care about in their community. In the United States “Service Unites” is celebrated April 23rd -29th. But celebrations are world-wide:
• Volunteer Australia “Give Happy – Live Happy” May 14-18th.
• Volunteering Canada “Volunteering, Eh?” April 23 -29th
• United Kingdom Volunteering “You make the difference” June 1-7”
• Volunteer Ireland “I-VOL” May 16-22
• Wales Council for Voluntary Action “Recognize, reward and recruit volunteers” June 1-7
- Give them a Bigger Picture
- Let your volunteers know the outcomes of their labors. Their role may be small mundane tasks but it’s an important part of the big picture.
- Provide Food – A cookie tray goes a long way! For our agency we’ve had a tradition of giving brightly wrapped “Pay Day” candy bars. We also give them the accomplishments of our agency and thank them for being part of the change in their community.
- Check-in with your Volunteers
- Knowing their name and a handshake is very important to people who care enough to give back to their community.
- Feature Volunteer Stories on your blog or website. We use quotes from volunteers to highlight the importance of volunteers and make them part of the team.
- Give Your Volunteers Awards – Are there any volunteers who have gone above-and-beyond? Nominate them for the Indiana SERVE Awards or other award programs.
- Give small tokens of gratitude – Pictures are great ways to thank Volunteers. You can post their pictures around the agency and put them on social media. Make sure that they have a copy of the picture to show their family and friends.
- Handwritten Thank You Cards
Sometimes the best way to show your appreciation is the old fashioned way- sending them a thank you card. In the age of email and social media, the handwritten letter is a novelty. You’ll get bonus points for personalizing the message, such as thanking them for a specific task they did during their time of volunteering.
So you still have time to put together a simple plan or a grand event. Volunteers just need to know that they are appreciated.