Americans overall donate over eight billion hours a year through volunteer work. April is National Volunteer Recognition Month and as shelters and rescues, you probably rely on volunteers to carry out your mission. Volunteers are a critical part of what you do and because they aren’t paid, it’s even more important to make sure they feel appreciated. While many nonprofits are adept at recognizing donors, sometimes it’s easy to let volunteer recognition slip past us. We’ve compiled some ideas to implement in April – or any time of the year!
Ways to Show Volunteer Appreciation
The pandemic put a damper on some of the traditional ways we thank volunteers, but as vaccinations start to increase, and states start to re-open, there is an opportunity to return to in-person recognition events with Covid precautions. We’ve listed some in-person and virtual ways you can thank volunteers.
Awards – This type of recognition can be in-person or virtual. If you track volunteer hours you can create awards for the person who logged the most hours. You can also give awards such as “Always Shows Up with a Smile” or “Dog Whisperer”—anything fun and unique can be something you recognize.
Thank You Event – These events can go beyond a potluck or pizza party. Think outside the box and look at other venues including movie theaters, breweries, bowling alleys, or bring in a food truck to your location for something different for volunteers.
Handwritten Notes – We might live in a digital age, but the personal touch of a handwritten note will never go out of style. Write thank-you notes to your volunteers not just in April but throughout the entire year to let them know how much their work means to your organization.
Social Media Promotion – Start a Volunteer of the Month on your social media channels and highlight each of your volunteers. You can even designate a special parking spot for them. This isn’t accomplishment-based but rather a way you can honor every volunteer.
Highlight Special Days – Celebrate your volunteers on the anniversary dates of when they began volunteering for your organization. You can make this as simple or as elaborate as you choose. Perhaps you can get a cake recognizing the volunteer and post about them on your social media. Or you can go the extra mile, and include flowers, your organization’s swag, tickets to a movie, etc. It depends on the kind of budget and time commitment you have available.
Volunteer Recognition is Important
Volunteers save nonprofits an incredible amount of money. According to a study from the Independent Sector, volunteer time is worth $28.54 per hour. Whether your volunteers are answering phones, cleaning kennels, or fundraising, they are helping make a difference to your organization—and recognizing them will help keep them involved with your mission.