Volunteers can be a vital part of many organizations. For instance, board members are considered volunteers because they do not get paid to serve on your board, but they spend a lot of time providing their insights and expertise for the success and sustainability of your group. Volunteers can also include people who give of their time and support your efforts around a fundraising event, such as a shoe drive fundraiser, or maybe even spend time on a weekend afternoon helping your team paint your new office space.
Volunteers can play an essential role in many nonprofits, and some charities are fully volunteer driven with little to no paid staff. So, how could leaders ensure that they keep their volunteers motivated and engaged?
- Say thank you––often: Lots of times one of the easiest things to do is the one that is most often overlooked. Want to have your volunteers continue to support your organization on an ongoing basis? Say thank you. Don’t assume that your volunteers know you appreciate what they do for you. Tell them, often and in different ways. Make it a habit to always tell them they are doing great! Saying “thank you” goes a long way!
- Handwritten thank you notes: Following up on the act of saying “thank you” an excellent way to show your volunteers your appreciation in the digital age is to send handwritten thank you notes. Most people no longer receive any letters or cards in the mail since most communication is done electronically. So, sending a note card in the mail has a big impact. Chances are a handwritten note card or letter will get opened and read, which sets it apart from email.
- Letters of recommendation: Another excellent way to show your volunteers that you appreciate everything they do for you is by giving them letters of recommendation. Volunteers who are attending school or college, can use these letters for further schooling or if they are looking to apply to a particular educational program. Workers can use letters of recommendation in a job search, and they hold particular value for employers because they help demonstrate that someone is civic minded and a team worker.
- Parties or events: If you happen to have a strong volunteer program and you want to show let them know that you care about them, ask a major donor to your nonprofit to underwrite a dinner party, picnic, BBQ or another event that will celebrate the work your volunteers do for your organization. Get creative depending on the culture of your charity and what your volunteers would enjoy attending.
- Give them a memory: Another great idea for your volunteers is for you to take pictures of them doing the work within your organization and then to give them a framed photo. Your volunteers will like receiving this gesture from you and will place a framed picture on their desk or in their home, which will always remind them of the good times and impact they have made within your nonprofit. It’s a great memory for them to have that they will be able to see often.
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