Recognizing Volunteers – 30 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

by Patricia

Volunteer appreciation is a critical component of effective volunteer management.  Volunteers give of their time freely and don’t ask for anything in return but keeping volunteers engaged and motivated is what showing them appreciation if all about.

A well managed volunteer program has systems in place to reward and recognize volunteers strategically and deliberately.  Because we all have different social styles, it’s important to keep the various perspectives and likes and dislikes in mind when creating a volunteer appreciation system.

A volunteer program needs to be funded by the church budget and the operations of the volunteer office requires some financial resources.  Because of this, volunteer appreciation ideas should include both no cost ideas as well as budgeted items to show appreciation.

30 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

  1. Personal thank you note from pastor.
  2. Personal thank you note from volunteer supervisor.
  3. Personal thank you note from volunteer office coordinator.
  4. Preferred parking.
  5. Birthday card.
  6. Video story highlighting a volunteer.
  7. Promote a faithful volunteer into a leadership role.
  8. Allow a volunteer the opportunity to share best practices with other volunteers.
  9. Feature story about a volunteer on the church website.
  10. Assign a strong volunteer to represent the church for a community event.
  11. Assign a volunteer to be a community spokesperson.
  12. Develop volunteer Sunday and use it to acknowledge all volunteers.
  13. Reserved parking for volunteer-of-the-month.
  14. Create volunteer appreciation committee and select a few volunteers to participate.
  15. Make a public recognition of a volunteer at a church service.
  16. Post a thank you note on volunteer’s locker or work area before they arrive for their shift.
  17. Create a photo wall in a hallway recognizing volunteer years of service.
  18. Place a phone call from the volunteer office randomly thanking volunteers.
  19. Share positive feedback you hear about a volunteer back to that volunteer.
  20. Create traveling trophy that highlights volunteer commitments.
  21. Arrange a photo with senior pastor.
  22. Arrange a photo with volunteer team.
  23. Write a volunteer appreciation poem.
  24. Plan an annual volunteer appreciation dinner.
  25. Develop volunteer-of-the-year award.
  26. Plan lunch with senior pastor and his wife.
  27. Take advantage of national volunteer appreciation week.  Volunteer appreciation week for 2012 was April 15th – 21st and is usually the 2nd or 3rd week in April so you have plenty of time to plan your volunteer appreciation week for 2013!
  28. Host volunteer appreciation day.
  29. Develop volunteer-of-the-month.
  30. Send volunteer to specialized training (ie; children’s ministry, emergency preparedness, food safety).
  31. Distribute gifts to show volunteer appreciation.  Gift ideas:  mugs, pens, pins, t shirt, logoed key ring, baseball cap, jacket, visor, dinner gift certificate, round of golf, plaque for years of service, personalized stationery.

As with showing appreciation to employees, it is important to create a system and develop annual departmental and employee goals to ensure recognition is done.  Also keep in mind the different social styles we all have and incorporate ideas that cover all different social styles.  For example, some people feel appreciated from simply words of affirmation, others likes tangible gifts and others enjoy spending time with leadership so keeping these different preferences in mind will help you create an appreciation model that truly shows your gratitude for volunteer labor.

What types of things do you do to show appreciation for your volunteers?

photo by:  Ranken Jorden

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