Many organizations, including churches, charities and other not-for-profits, rely on volunteers to do their work. Volunteer appreciation efforts are central to encouraging and retaining volunteers. Organizations don't need to buy their volunteers fancy gifts to make them feel appreciated. The easiest way to let volunteers know how important they are is to tell them and there are many creative ways to do that.
If you cannot think of a good way to say "thank you" to your volunteers, let a quote say it for you. Many writers have already expressed the importance and benefits of volunteering. Volunteers will appreciate that staff took the time to select a quote just for them and they can refer back to it for inspiration in the future. The Quote Garden website (quotegarden.com) has a collection of quotes about volunteers such as one by Sherry Anderson: "Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless but because they're priceless."
For volunteers who excel in one job, unofficial titles can make them feel like a part of the team. Staff members have titles like "director" and "volunteer coordinator," but volunteers can also be recognized for their areas of expertise. Referring to volunteers using phrases like "the listener" or "the problem solver" shows them that their skills are valued. The More Volunteers website has more suggestions for volunteer titles (morevolunteers.com).
If volunteers are receiving thank-you gifts, a short slogan can make the gift more meaningful and easier to remember. Find phrases that tie the gift together with the work done in a volunteer's mind. A book could be accompanied by the phrase, "You're number one in our book," or a plant could be attached to "Thanks for helping us grow." More phrases are available in a list compiled by the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (lsuagcenter.com).
Giving a volunteer a personal compliment is a fitting way to show her that the work she is doing really matters. It's also a great way to encourage volunteers to keep up the good work, so mention something they do well or something that you wish they would do more of. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to motivate volunteers.
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