When working on any volunteer project, you certainly couldn’t do it without the dedicated help from your team of volunteers. Whether it is a school, church or organization project, your volunteers are critical to the project’s success. Volunteers handle every aspect of a project or an event. Volunteers have many different skills and talents to help your project. A volunteer skilled in graphic design can make your posters, flyers and invitations. A volunteer with connections to a grocery store might be able to get you a great discount on food and beverage for the event. A “social butterfly” volunteer that knows everyone in town can probably get even more volunteers to sign up.

Thanking volunteers is an important part of any volunteer project. It is best to thank volunteers as they begin a project, while they are working on the project and then give a big thank you at the end of a project. Thanking volunteers is just one step in building relationships with your volunteers. Volunteers that feel appreciated and needed will be more likely to come back to help you with other projects and events. There are a number of ways you can thank your volunteers that are not expensive, they will typically just cost you time and some thoughtfulness.

1. Handwritten Notes

A handwritten note is a wonderful thank you note. Do this even if you don’t think you have terrific penmanship: this is not an exercise in who has the best handwriting, what truly shows is that you took the time to say thank you in a very personal way. E-mail is a great invention but it is simply too casual sometimes, and in this case a handwritten note “trumps” e-mail big time. Don’t know what to say: it is simple, thank the volunteer for what they did and tell them what a big difference it will make to the project overall. Use plain and simple language. This will be much appreciated.

2. Telephone Call

Another great idea is to make a telephone call to thank your volunteers. It is an especially nice touch to have the person in charge of your organization make the call, whether this is the Principal of the school or the Executive Director of your organization. Give the person in charge a list of the people to call and some “crib notes” of what they have accomplished in case this person doesn’t know every single detail that has gone on. Many people are impressed with and appreciate a personal telephone call.

3. “Thank You” at Annual Event

Many organizations have an annual dinner or an annual event of some type, whether to fundraise or to just get together as a community. This is a prime time to say thank you to your dedicated volunteers who have worked on your special project. Have everyone stand up or come on stage. You can have everyone in the room give them a round of applause. It is a nice touch to give people something, like a small plant or a picture frame – it can be an inexpensive gift but something just to say thank you.

4. Hang a Plaque.

Have you re-done the playground at school? Or gotten new musical instruments for the school band? Or perhaps you have worked on some other special project. A nice idea to thank your volunteers is to create a plaque in the room or area of the project that lists the names of the volunteers. You can also have a little “unveiling” ceremony showing the plaque to your volunteers with coffee and cake.

5. Name Something

Another idea is to name something in honor of your volunteers. It can be to name a day in honor of your volunteers or perhaps a special award for other volunteers to be presented with for the future. This can be a very memorable honor for your volunteers to be awarded and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Posted on 27 September 2007

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