National Volunteer Week starts April 21

National Volunteer Week* turns 50 this year! This year’s celebration is April 21–27 and no one knows the value of great volunteers more than our association peeps! To help you celebrate, Points of Light offers a downloadable #NVW toolkit complete with social media posts and logos to use.

Need more than a week? Global Volunteer Month is celebrated all April so there’s plenty of time to show your volunteers how much you care.

Here are a few ideas we’ve gathered over the years to help you celebrate your volunteers :

Get your staff together for a picture and hold up a sign saying thank you. Post to Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. with #NVW

Grab a bunch of volunteer pictures in action from the past year (conference, chapter events, etc.) and create a fun montage to post & share. (Here are 16 tools from a 2019 Hootsuite post you can use to make this easy!)

Make a GIF of you before and after you were impacted by your volunteers. A simple frown followed by a smile will suffice. Check out,, Canva’s Free GIF Maker

Create a simple meme using a tool like MemeGenerator or Canva’s Meme Generator. Send these to your volunteers randomly throughout the day.

WRITE A QUICK THANK YOU NOTE (can’t beat this one!)
You can’t go wrong with a good old-fashioned personal note. Make it easy on yourself and write a couple every day or get staff to chip in.

Not sure what to write? VolunteerPro has some great tips on How to Write the Perfect Volunteer Thank you. Or check out these tips from Galaxy Digital complete with templates.

SEND AN EMAIL (really … it’s ok)
Sounds counter-intuitive to the tip above, but a short brief thanks via email to all volunteers can do wonders. Just a “We wouldn’t be where we are without you! Thanks!” is all you need.

Want to do more? Spice up the email with a simple montage or gif (see social media above).

Change your signature line for the week to put in an appreciation for your volunteers – just a way of letting everyone know how valuable they are.

MAKE SOME PHONE CALLS (nothing beats a friendly voice)
If handwritten notes are near the top of your list, then a personal phone call is at the tippy top! Make a couple of quick calls just to say thank you. If you have to pick and choose, call the volunteers you haven’t had much contact with.

As with the notes, ask staff to chip in. Or work it like a phone tree … call volunteer leaders, who then call their committee chairs, who then call volunteers on their committees.

During this week – or the full month – have the welcome message on your auto-attendant updated to say you appreciate your volunteers during this week and throughout the year.

Fun Facts

“The origin of volunteering can be traced back to 12th century Britain, where there were more than 500 hospitals operated by volunteers. But it still cannot be excluded that people were selflessly helping others even before then.” A short history of volunteering. 2019

“The first English language use of the word, “Volunteer,” was in a poem titled, “Of Arthour & of Merlin,” which originated around 1330.” The Origins of the Word, “Volunteer.” Benjamin Paley, PA Times. 2020

The verb was first recorded in 1755. In 1851, the first YMCA in the United States was started, followed seven years later by the first YWCA. During the American Civil War, women volunteered their time to sew supplies for the soldiers, and the “Angel of the Battlefield” Clara Barton and a team of volunteers began providing aid to servicemen. Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and began mobilizing volunteers for disaster relief operations, including relief for victims of the Johnstown Flood in 1889. Volunteering. Wikipedia

DON’T FORGET YOUR STAFF (they need some love too!)
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again … one of the key elements for satisfaction repeated in our research over the years is staff. They may be paid, but they are just as important. After all, they are usually on the front lines of working with volunteers, so use this week to thank staff for their efforts. Consider…

  • calling a quick meeting to find out what’s working for them – and not working for them. Are there ways you can make their job more efficient?
  • spotlighting a different staff liaison and their volunteer team each day in interoffice and external communications.
  • bringing in lunch and having staff share effective practices while they eat.
  • having your board chair send a personal thank you – phone call (maybe a Zoom conference call with staff), letter, or email – to staff.

CELEBRATE #NVW YEAR-ROUND (well, of course!)
Nothing says we appreciate you more than supporting your endeavors. One way to show that support is to offer a comprehensive training program that meets your volunteers where they are, i.e., offer a program that ties volunteer training to motivations and aspirations rather than to the tasks at hand. Learn more about volunteer learning journey mapping.

Finally, here are some tips from a recent ASAE Community thread on how to celebrate your volunteers year-round.

  • For the annual meeting or other event, put together personalized swag boxes for volunteer leaders who were rolling off their committee. Supply custom badge ribbons with a great slogan/tagline, set aside space for a volunteer lounge, and/or host a volunteer reception/breakfast/coffee break.
  • For year-round recognition, offer discounts in professional development, major events, or online stores.

How will you celebrate #NVW this year?

*Originally conceived in Canada in 1943, National Volunteer Week was first established in the US in 1974 by President Richard Nixon under Presidential Proclamation 4288. The celebration is organized by the non-profit Points of Light, which helps organizations around the county – and the world – recognize the huge impact volunteers have on our society.