7 Ideas for Recognizing Volunteers (and Staff!) from Volunteer Managers

Posted Thursday, August 17th, 2017 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

The act of volunteering makes volunteers feel great — simply because they are giving back and helping others. Still, volunteer recognition blogs continue to be some of Sterling Volunteers’ most popular posts with volunteer managers. Why? Volunteers (and staff) are the backbone of nonprofit organizations and their hard work and dedication can never be recognized enough. These devoted and enthusiastic people give their time and energy to ensure organizations can make an impact in the communities they serve, and saying “thank you” in a fun and genuine way acknowledges their invaluable contributions!

Back in May we shared some fun ideas for summertime volunteer recognition that combine gratitude and the beautiful weather we experience this time of year. This new list includes ideas which have been suggested by some of your fellow volunteer managers – and it includes ways to show thanks to staff members at your organization as well:

  1. Client Satisfaction Survey – One volunteer manager sends out a monthly survey to 20 randomly selected clients and asks them about their experience with volunteers/staff from the organization. They then share the responses at their monthly meeting singling out volunteers and staff with special kudos.
  2. A Personal Call from the Board – Another organization has members of their board call volunteers and staff throughout the year thanking them personally for their instrumental service to the nonprofit. Something as simple as a phone call from organization leaders can make staff and volunteers feel valued and appreciated.
  3. An Old School “thank you” in the Moment – An instantaneous show of gratitude at the moment a good deed is done was suggested by one volunteer manager. This nonprofit leader reported that their volunteers and staff most appreciated a simple face-to-face “thank you for…” Saying thanks directly is fast, easy, timeless and oh-so-effective!
  4. Movie Night Out – Consider getting volunteers and staff together to see a film at the local movie theater. Coming together and seeing fellow volunteers and staff outside the organization was very much enjoyed by all according to one volunteer manager. Bonus suggestion: be on the lookout for a movie that ties in with your organization’s goals/message!
  5. Tracking Volunteers’ Future Successes – A hospital volunteer manager shared that their organization keeps track of volunteers who move on to medical school. There have been instances where wait-listed applicants were accepted and enrolled thanks to their volunteering experience. Tracking volunteer success allows organizations to congratulate their volunteer alums – and, as a bonus, they can use these success stories as a recruiting tool for future volunteers.
  6. Meeting Organization Leaders – A volunteer manager noted the impact organization leaders can have when showing volunteers and staff recognition for their hard work. At their nonprofit the president, vice presidents, and executive director approach volunteers and staff during shifts to give them a small treat and say thanks in person. This gives staff and volunteers the opportunity to meet various leaders whom they may not interact with otherwise.
  7. Put Your Gratitude in Print – Does your organization publish a magazine or e-zine? If so, consider using this as a tool for spotlighting special achievements by volunteers and staff. One volunteer manager’s organization recognizes staff and volunteers in their quarterly publication. This gratuity also looks great to clients and the community because it highlights your organization’s greatest resource: its people!

From simply stopping to say thanks to a volunteer for going above and beyond on a project to hosting a small birthday party for a longtime staff member, gratitude goes a long way! Special thanks to all the Volunteer Managers who shared these ideas with us. Do you and your organization have a unique way of highlighting volunteers and staff? Connect with us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to share!