What does it take to make a nonprofit work? Volunteers! Yes, donations and infrastructure are also necessary, but without the hard work and dedication offered by volunteers, most nonprofits would never get off the ground. However, is your nonprofit doing enough to show your volunteers how much they are appreciated? If not, then they may decide to leave and dedicate their time and energy elsewhere.

When it comes to volunteer retention, you have to make sure that you’re offering recognition as much and as often as possible. Today, we’re going to show you some great ways to show volunteer appreciation in your nonprofit that will let your volunteers know how much they mean to you and your organization.

Top Ways to Make Your Volunteers Feel Appreciated

Surprise Them

Everyone likes surprises. Even those who don’t prefer them have to admit that there is something extraordinary about the experience. When trying to show volunteers that they mean a lot to the organization, it helps to surprise them with a shout out or a little gift.

Surprises can be anything. Perhaps you are going to be feeding everyone some incredible local food. Maybe you have a box of candy that you toss out to your group after a hard day’s work. Whatever it is, the thing that volunteers will appreciate the most is the thought. Wrapping it in a surprise just makes it that more memorable.

Thank Them

[bctt tweet=”Volunteers usually don’t get individual recognition unless they go above and beyond the call of duty. Just by showing up they go above and beyond, so remember to thank them every day. #volunteermaui” username=”HandsOn_Maui_”]

Too often, nonprofits don’t take the time to really thank their supporters. They will give shout outs to donors and high-ranking people, but volunteers usually don’t get individual recognition unless they go above and beyond the call of duty.

What’s critical to remember is that a simple “thank you” can make a significant difference. A small token of appreciation can make a volunteer feel wanted and make their efforts worthwhile. 

When thanking volunteers, it helps to do it both as a group and individually. Adding a personal touch to the gratitude will make it more meaningful and will make it stick in their minds long afterward.

Overall, a thank you note or handshake is a small but profound gesture that will go a long way.

Celebrate Them

Most people don’t choose to volunteer because they’re trying to party. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t host a celebration in their honor. It doesn’t have to be an elegant bash – just some pizzas and soda with music playing in the background can be enough.

Best of all, you can combine the element of surprise with the celebration. After a long day of work, an informal celebration for volunteers can make all of their efforts feel better. Even if they’re tired and sore, they will love being able to cut loose and relax.

Talk to Them

One of the primary reasons that volunteers leave nonprofit organizations is that they don’t feel like their presence matters. They are just part of a group, and no one cares about them as an individual.

This is one reason why personalized thank yous can be such a powerful tool, but it’s also a good idea to talk to your volunteers as well.

Find out why they chose to work for your organization. Are they just looking for a way to give back to their community, or are they passionate about your cause? Talking with the volunteers not only offers them a voice and makes them feel heard, but it will allow you to utilize them more effectively.

For example, if you have volunteers with unique skills that can help your organization, this is how you can get them more involved. If they’re great with people and can help you raise funds or talk to donors, then they can become an invaluable asset to the team.

Overall, a simple discussion with volunteers is beneficial for everyone.

Write to Them

As they say, talk is cheap. While thank yous and one-on-one conversations do make an impact, a handwritten letter goes the extra mile. Since your volunteers are putting the extra work in, shouldn’t you?

Writing simple personalized notes will show volunteers that they mean a lot more to you than they might think. Considering that you took the time and effort to craft something like this shows that you appreciate them, and it will make them much more willing to get involved.

Share Them

Finally, a great way to show appreciation is to boast about the excellent efforts of your team. Whether it’s through social media, a community board, or public shout-outs at events, sharing the exploits and hard work of your volunteers will make them feel like they matter.

Another thing to do is pay attention to milestones like birthdays or time with the organization. For example, if a volunteer has contributed 100 hours, celebrate that fact and share it with the team. This will encourage more people to reach that milestone so that they can be recognized as well.

Bottom Line

Too often, nonprofits are understandably focused on their mission, and making the community they serve happy. However, in a way, nonprofits also serve their volunteers. they provide the opportunity to join a team and make the world a better place. Be sure to make the time and effort to honor and recognize your volunteers, and everyone will benefit.