Volunteers are critical resources for community and non-profit organizations that you should not forget since they donate their time and talents. You should typically offer some form of recognition to volunteers for their service. Something as simple as a well-crafted thank you note can provide the volunteer with a sense of accomplishment, reinforce a positive experience with your organization and give the volunteer a reason to help your organization at some point in the future. The investment of just a few minutes of your time can pay future dividends to you and your organization.
The Thank You Note
Choose your form of communication. Handwritten notes can provide a personal touch to your communication; depending on the situation, however, other forms such as e-mail or even a formal letter may be more appropriate. Use e-mail if you know your audience is technologically advanced and would prefer this method. A more formal approach would be to craft a letter of thanks using organization letterhead. The formal approach is appropriate to provide special recognition to a volunteer who reached a milestone in her volunteer efforts, such as an annual affiliation with your organization.
Use a personalized salutation. A letter that starts "Dear Volunteer" is cold and impersonal. Using the first name of the volunteer shows warmth and helps foster a more personal relationship with the organization.
State the specific contribution the volunteer made to the organization and how this contribution furthered the organizational mission. Referencing how the volunteer helped and what impact she made helps give the volunteer a sense of personal investment in the organization and builds confidence in her ability to help your organization in the future.
Keep the language simple, direct and conversational. Conversational language is most often used by family, friends and acquaintances because it is more warm and inviting. This type of personal relationships with the organization is what a thank you letter should try to foster.
Inform the volunteer of future opportunities to help your organization and invite them to take an active role in furthering your mission using her talents. Volunteers can burn out if they perform the same tasks every time they help your organization. Invite them to take part in other areas of your organization where the volunteer can use her most valued skills and interests in a shared cause.
End the letter by reiterating your thanks to the volunteer and inviting her to contact you personally with any questions or suggestions she may have for your organization. Making an appeal for future volunteerism is only the first step. Invite your volunteers to have their voice heard regarding their experience and observations.