People and sunset

Celebrating Your Biggest Fans

Recognizing Your Volunteers Makes a World of Difference

As nonprofits strategize on the best use of resources to further the mission of the organization, it is wise to pause and consider one of their biggest assets: volunteers.

Honoring the service of your biggest fans will lead to long term engagement and recruitment of other community members to help do the big work of serving the greater community through your programs. Bring your volunteers into the fold of quality service by letting them know how their efforts support the big picture. They are also key in having a successful fundraising program.

There are several other ways to show appreciation:

  • Feed them.  Many volunteers are navigating very full lives and when each dedicates some of their free time to help out your nonprofit, many are doing so between jobs and home.  By providing snacks or meals, you will alleviate the need for your stars to go hungry while helping you out.
  • Feature them. There is nothing like public recognition for a job well done to fill a person’s spirit. Spotlight your volunteers in your e-newsletter and on social media, with permission, of course.
  • Thank them. Send a handwritten note to thank your volunteers for the time, energy, and passion they share with your organization.  A small gesture that goes the distance.

Another idea to elevate these special folks is to generate special volunteer awards.  I recommend recognizing each one with a personal spin on individual awards.  

Here is a video of a few tips on working with volunteers:

Taking the time to build a robust pool of volunteers is a worthy effort but it does take an investment. Done properly, staff require support by providing resources to recruit, train, supervise, and recognize one of the organization’s key assets of people power that can help in the following ways:

  • Minimize staff burnout.
  • Expand board engagement opportunities.
  • Leverage your digital presence.
  • Fundraising opportunities.

Do keep in mind that volunteers cannot receive any kind of compensation – even in kind benefits – as this will turn them into employees. It is recommended you consult with your insurance provider to confirm that volunteers are covered under your workers’ compensation insurance.

There are opportunities to bring in volunteers for episodic support or on an ongoing basis. The volunteer assignments can range from a one-time mailing or bring in a professional to provide pro bono services. You can use social media and other digital communications tools to get the word out about your volunteer opportunities.  You can also use a service like VolunteerMatch or your local United Way.

Treating your volunteers with care can help build your volunteer pool. For example, one study found that 42% of volunteers became one because they encountered the organization and were asked to volunteer, which would not have happened without other volunteers spreading the word.

In closing, without these key participants, your nonprofit cannot grow in a meaningful way. There are many easy ways to appreciate your biggest fans. Although during these current days of the pandemic, in person opportunities are limited, volunteers can certainly support your nonprofit in the virtual space. Save the date for National Volunteer Appreciation Week that is taking place April 17 – 23, 2022.


Posted in Volunteers.