Volunteers are the core foundation of any nonprofit organization! Every volunteer has their own unique set of skills and expertise to help people and contribute to philanthropic causes. In simple terms, volunteers allow nonprofits to deliver important programs and services to help the community and support their mission!
This week is National Volunteer Week, so let’s celebrate the impact every volunteer is making in their community. National Volunteer Week is the perfect opportunity to express gratitude and recognize your volunteers’ determination to tackle some of the greatest challenges many individuals face today in our community. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Ready to learn more about National Volunteer Week and what you can do to show your appreciation? Let’s dive in!
1. What is National Volunteer Week
National Volunteer Week is a week dedicated to celebrating your volunteers’ hard work and dedication to truly making a positive difference in our society.
National Volunteer Week started back in 1974 and was established by President Richard Nixon. Ever since he executed this order, every subsequent sitting U.S. president has continued this order by encouraging every American to donate their time to the community.
Your volunteers are passionate and arrive at every shift excited to help you reach your goals, in return, they deserve recognition! This event occurs every year in the third week of April. This year, National Volunteer Week is from April 17th to April 23. So it’s time to show your volunteers how important they are in the lives of many and make them feel appreciated.
2. How to Express Appreciation
Whether big or small, any form of appreciation will mean a lot to your volunteers, and the great part is that there are several ways to do so! There are many benefits of expressing gratitude and appreciation, such as engaging volunteers more deeply in your program and making them feel valued. This can boost performance, and ultimately increase your volunteer retention rate.
Here’s how you can kick off the week:
Offer tangible appreciation gifts - Gift your volunteers different types of merchandise that are branded with your organization’s colors and logo, gift cards, or a certificate to hang on their wall to remind them of their achievements. You can make things exciting by asking your volunteers to participate in a design competition, and through a poll system, decide on the winning design and use that on your merchandise!
Plan an appreciation event - Get creative and choose a theme for your appreciation event for all your volunteers to dress up and get together to celebrate their achievements. An appreciation event is a great way for your volunteers to engage and connect in a fun activity outside of your volunteering environment. Hand out awards to your volunteers highlighting any major accomplishments in front of your entire team! There’s no doubt your volunteers are going to feel special.
Recognize top volunteers publicly - Public recognition is one of the most effective ways that make your volunteers feel valued. For instance, you can spotlight your volunteers on social media for all your followers to see. You could also create a blog post about your volunteers’ accomplishments and share the link on your social media accounts for everyone to read. Highlighting any major volunteer achievements in your monthly newsletter is also a great idea!
No matter how you choose to express your appreciation, these gifts are guaranteed to make your volunteers feel special and like integral members of your team. They will also feel more inclined to stay long-term with your organization. Remember to personalize your gifts to make them stand out!
3. How to Amplify Your Current Volunteer Program
If you have a great team of volunteers who always put their best foot forward for any event or activity, you surely don’t want to lose them. Which is why it’s crucial to think of new ways to constantly keep your volunteers motivated and excited! Plus, you put a lot of hard work into finding these amazing volunteers, so it’ll be beneficial to enhance your current volunteer program.
Here’s what you can do to amplify your current volunteer program and keep them coming back:
Host an effective volunteer orientation - Your volunteer orientation sets the foundation for a successful long-term relationship with new volunteers. Ensure your volunteer orientation is comprehensive and hands-on, allowing your volunteers to feel confident and comfortable in their roles right from the get-go. Inspire your volunteers to share your nonprofit’s history, mission and goals, and how their contributions are the key to success!
Continuously offer new ways to engage - Although your volunteers have initially signed up for roles they were interested in, it’s good to switch things up once in a while if your volunteers are open to new opportunities. This will encourage your volunteers to learn new skills, experience new opportunities, and meet new people. This helps create excitement and avoids volunteers from feeling bored. Leverage your email and social media accounts to highlight multiple opportunities for volunteers to participate in your organization’s activities.
Provide flexible and inclusive volunteer opportunities - Make your volunteer opportunities inclusive to ensure you don’t leave anyone out. Some volunteers may face barriers to participating but still have the passion to help, so it’s important to offer opportunities that are applicable to everyone. Having a diverse team comes with many benefits! Start by determining the barriers some of your volunteers may face, whether it’s physical, time, or geographical, and think of alternatives to overcome them.
Ask for your volunteers’ feedback - Who knows your volunteer program better than your volunteers? Since your volunteers are the pillars of your nonprofit, ensuring they have a positive experience is crucial as it makes them feel like their voices are heard. You can understand the effectiveness of your program through volunteer surveys. This will also help you understand if your volunteers are satisfied with their experience.
Use a Volunteer Management Software - Using a volunteer management software can ease up your volunteer management process! It’s important to do your research and find a suitable volunteer management solution that will streamline your program management. A good VMS should help you easily engage with your volunteers, communicate important messages instantly, assess productivity levels, report on volunteer impact, and much more! If your VMS also comes with an app, you can manage your program at your fingertips!
Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about National Volunteer Week, how you can make your volunteers feel special, and how to enhance your current volunteer program, it’s time to start putting it into action! Remember to use statistics when you’re highlighting your volunteers’ achievements or handing out awards, as numbers express more. Show your volunteers that you’re always invested in making their experience better and better to ensure they thrive.
Good luck planning, and Happy National Volunteer Week!
If you’re looking for more information on how to upgrade your volunteer program with new ways to boost volunteer engagement and offer a great volunteer experience, review these additional resources:
Volunteer Engagement | Strategies for Smart Organizations. This article explores how your organization can ensure every volunteer has a meaningful and positive experience through a well-thought-out volunteer engagement strategy.
Volunteer Management Software: FAQ +18 Top Solutions. Check out this article to review a comprehensive list of volunteer management software providers to help your organization find the right solution.
23 Best Volunteer Appreciation Gifts to Show Your Gratitude. Explore this article to get a list of some great volunteer appreciation gift ideas and why they are beneficial for your organization.