What have your volunteers done for you lately?

Group of people saying ThankWhat have your volunteers done for you lately? Wrong question. What have you done for your volunteers lately?

It is National Volunteer Week in Australia. Every organisation needs to assess what it is doing to recognise volunteers and volunteers need to think about what organisations are doing to recognise the time they give to those organisations. Volunteering Australia gives us 101 Ways to Recognise Your Volunteers including 13 key ideas to celebrate National Volunteer Week

  1. Give a certificate to commemorate anniversaries of involvement.
  2. Take photos of volunteers ‘on the job’, imprint a ‘Thank you’ message and frame them – then give them to each volunteer.
  3. Hold special ‘thank you’ or social functions in honour of volunteers.
  4. For long-standing volunteers, collect coins in the amount of hours contributed, place them in a vase tied with a royal blue ribbon and present to them at a special afternoon tea.
  5. Have a morning tea with testimonials to the volunteers from recipients of services.
  6. Give them a mug with logo or ‘thank you’ motif.
  7. Create bookmarks for the volunteers with an acknowledgement of appreciation for work contributed.
  8. Hold a BBQ for your volunteers.
  9. Run a Volunteers Breakfast.
  10. Give a pat on the back: Trace your hand on plain paper and cut out. Write, ‘Here’s a pat on the back for _________________. Thanks for all you hard work.’ Invite staff or anyone else that has contact with the volunteers to make one in recognition of the service of particular volunteers. Hang them all together for visual impact.
  11. Create Volunteer buttons and pins
  12. Arrange discounts for your volunteers at local shops.
  13. Celebrate formal recognition events such as International Volunteer Day and National Volunteer Week with dinners, teas, dessert buffets, etc.

Some might seem basic or a little hokey; however, at the end of the day, isn’t it about taking a minute to say thanks and trying to be creative enough that the volunteers accept your thanks with appreciation for being recognised. Too few organisations take the opportunity to say thank you. It might be too late to action many fo these ideas this week during National Volunteer Week. But, what about hand written thank you note or simply a personalised mass Email sent to volunteers with a big “THANK YOU”?