How Do You Thank Your Volunteers?

How Do You Thank Your Volunteers?

The past few weeks have been full of work on local festivals driven by some very dedicated volunteers. Like most nonprofits, this one couldn't hope to survive without the enthusiastic volunteer support it receives.

Today, I'm contemplating a simple question: how do you thank your volunteers? How do you let them know that their work matters?

Here are a few examples I've seen in action:

  • Food / drinks: If you're going to be working for free, it's nice to have your basic needs met while you're doing it. It's nice to be able to have an adult beverage with the rest of the team at the end of a successful event, too.
  • Physical mementos: Often an event shirt is provided (all the easier to find the volunteers). Sometimes a goodie bag of other useful souvenirs is provided.
  • Recognition: Everyone likes to hear that their work is appreciated. Sometimes written thank yous are called for; sometimes it's just the thank yous of the crowd or the rest of the team.
  • Awards: This is really a subset of recognition. Whether it's a certificate, trophy, or fun verbal acknowledgement at the wrap-up meeting ("most likely to take out the bathroom trash - thanks!"), it's nice to be reminded that your efforts were valued.
  • Special activities: You might have a volunteer party or a night out together to celebrate the success of your event project.

What else would you suggest? What "thank you" has mattered most to you as a volunteer?