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Recognizing Volunteers On A Shoestring Budget

By April 10, 2014August 17th, 20222 Comments

Last week, I wrote about some of the best practices in volunteer recognition.  Since April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, I thought that we would continue our discussion this week with strategies to recognize volunteers on a shoestring budget.

The most cost effective ways to recognize volunteers are informal.  These strategies are usually on-going and seem unplanned.  However, in reality, a lot of thought and planning have gone into make volunteers feel valued, appreciated and welcomed.

Some ideas:

  • Send cards to volunteers to recognize special events – birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  • Periodically send a hand written thank you note
  • Pick up a coffee or tea when you pick up one for yourself
  • Ask volunteers for their thoughts and ideas about changes the organization is thinking of making
  • Invite volunteers to participate in staff meetings
  • Provide volunteers with a work space of their own
  • Deliver Hershey’s Kisses to volunteers
  • Send a thank you note to the volunteer’s employer acknowledging the time and contributions made by the volunteer
  • Warmly greet volunteers when they arrive and thank them for their service when they leave.

What other strategies has your organization used?

Above all, remember that volunteers have a choice about whether or not to serve within your organization.  If they don’t feel valued and appreciated, there are other organizations that will be happy to have their service.



  • In a non-profit structure experience, we developed small teams of volunteers to solely take care of the small groups of volunteers. These special teams were Volunteer Care Teams and they were assigned specific groups of volunteers to take care of. Our goals were to create quarterly schedules for each Care Team so that each volunteer they were caring for was reached with ‘a thank you touch’ a minimum of twice per quarter. One ‘thank you touch’ could be a written note, a phone call, or a brief personal visit. It was our goal that the other ‘thank you touch’ be an act of service to the volunteer. Some of the examples of our acts of service included a meal, a delivery of a dessert, running an errand, mowing the grass, caring for a child for a few hours, or related to whatever life situation the volunteer was facing – just being there for them to ease the life burden. On a side note, if the volunteer had any complaints or problems in his or her volunteer role, the Care Team volunteer was open to listening and to making sure the Admin Team was specifically made aware. The response from our volunteers was overwhelmingly positive. It was a bit of a challenge to maintain this effort, but I feel like it was well worth the challenge and the effort.

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