Saying Thanks to Volunteers

Its November – the month of thanks! And right around the corner is April’s National Volunteer Week (4/18/21). In reality, we don’t need a month or designated week to say thanks to our volunteers. We should be showing our appreciation all year long.  

Here are a few inexpensive ways to update your appreciation for your fav volunteer or anyone on your shopping list. 

  1. Arrange an afternoon off to catch up on the holiday to-do’s … call the employer of a valuable volunteer and arrange for them to get a free pass at work (yes this can work!). 
  2. Extend their membership for a month (or more!). 
  3. Send a picture of them in action in a fun cardstock photo easel (love this one from SendAFrame). 
  4. Send a personal holiday card – through the mail! Visit Poemsource for ideas. 
  5. Offer a free registration to a professional development activity of their choice in the coming year (bonus points if you underwrite the travel!).   
  6. Get each staff member (or other volunteers) to write something positive about the person on a piece of paper and give them the box of collected sayings, or frame them for the volunteer. The inspiration for this entry came from 51 Ways To Reward Employees Without Money which has a number of good ideas.  
  7. Prepare a short video montage that celebrates the employee’s accomplishments. Check out Animoto to make this easy. 
  8. Give a gift certificate to your association bookstore. Or make that a gift card to a larger library like Barnes & Noble.
  9. Give a gift card to create their own art – like Fracture 
  10. Buy a cool Groupon. It can be a wonderful, frugal gift.  
  11. Give an eco-friendly reusable shopping bag (check out BlueQ Bags) with a cool saying – maybe a catchy phrase about the profession or trade or one that toots the volunteer’s horn like “Be somebody, Do something” or “World’s Coolest Volunteer.” Need inspiration, visit 
  12. Offer a free drink coupon to use at your association’s next mixer. (Hey if it works for Southwest…) 
  13. Establish a new volunteer perk for the coming year such as reimbursing mileage or discounts on registration fees for volunteers. (One of the Decision To Volunteer findings pointed to the cost of volunteering as one deterrent.) 
  14. Write a blog post highlighting the results of the work of volunteers the past year or a series – like the Daily Point Light, post a story each day of the month or week 


Need help with words to say? Check out Words to Thank Volunteers and Volunteer Thank You Letter. 

One final thought: saying thanks is more than showing appreciation. The sincerest recognition is putting our members’ ideas and work into action, letting their work generate outcomes. Recognition comes when volunteers see their efforts made a difference for the association. Are you creating volunteer opportunities that have results? Are you crediting the results to the efforts of member volunteers? Want to make a difference in the long run for your volunteers? Check out the ASAE Foundation Study on what makes a Mutually Beneficial Volunteer System which illuminated a few points to follow.  

Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash