Different Ways To Show Volunteer Appreciation During The Pandemic | Track It Forward

Different Ways To Show Volunteer Appreciation During The Pandemic

Written by Kasey Murphy

We know that volunteer appreciation week and month is in April, but showcasing volunteer appreciation is a vital part of being a great volunteer manager! When volunteers feel appreciated, they are incentivized to volunteer more! 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer appreciation is especially important due to the fact that many volunteers are probably feeling overwhelmed and underinvolved! As a reminder to volunteers that are they are important and that you do plan on involving them more throughout the pandemic and when volunteer programs reopen - you can plan some sort of volunteer appreciation events! 

Whether your program has volunteers that are volunteering throughout the pandemic, or your volunteers have had to be put on pause - it is a good idea to showcase volunteer appreciation! This will help current volunteers feel appreciated for their work during the pandemic and will show paused volunteers that you are hoping for their support and their eventual return to the program. 

Volunteer Appreciation Practices 
are an extremely important part of being a volunteer manager - your volunteers need to feel appreciated in order to want to return and keep volunteering! 

Recognition
This is one way to show your volunteers you appreciate them - recognize their presence and their efforts in fun and creative ways! 

Gift Giving
People love gifts, they are such a great way to showcase appreciation. Volunteers will feel so happy to receive a gift as an appreciation effort towards their volunteering! 

Thank Your Volunteers
Whether it be for their support, their volunteering, or their continued interest during hard times - have fun with finding strategies to thank your volunteers!

Why Is Volunteer Appreciation Important? 

Especially in the middle of a pandemic, you might be thinking - why does it matter if I show my volunteers that I appreciate them? 

Volunteer Appreciation is a great way to build relationships and volunteer programs that are meaningful to both the volunteers and to the organization. Volunteer Appreciation needs to be a creative strategy rather than an afterthought. 

Michigan State University had an article with a fitting quote:

“All humans need to be recognized in a meaningful way for their efforts. This helps to build self-esteem and confidence. Recognition is an important component of volunteer retention. When volunteers feel appreciated and important, they are more likely to feel connected to the program and continue their involvement.”

Beyond this, in this time especially, it is very easy for people to feel insignificant and lonely. So, spreading a bit of extra friendliness and appreciation is not going to hurt anyone! Especially when it comes to ensuring that your volunteer program has engaged volunteers. 

Check out these Creative Volunteer Appreciation Ideas That Are Pandemic - Friendly! 

Volunteer appreciation can be showcased in many forms. But, volunteer recognition, volunteer gifts are the two main categories of volunteer appreciation. 

Volunteer Appreciation - Recognition 

Volunteer Recognition and appreciation are pretty often used interchangeably, but there is a bit of a difference between the two. Appreciation is showing that you are thankful for the volunteer, where recognition is more so showing why. Why are they important? Why are you thankful for them? 

Volunteer recognition also usually comes with showcasing statistics or a reason why volunteers stand out. Many volunteer appreciation strategies that involve recognition include finding statistics about how often volunteers are volunteering and how much of an impact their time has had on the organization. 

It is a good idea to have a reliable volunteer time tracking software program that can help you quickly determine the amount of time a volunteer has spent in your organization! 

  • Volunteer Photo Wall - In a meeting area or common area, you can make a volunteer appreciation board recognizing your hardworking volunteer base. This can be a super creative project and a great way to show appreciation! 

  • Name Tags Varying In Color (depending on how many hours they have volunteered) - This is a fun opportunity for those who have spent a lot of time volunteering and it is also an incentivizing opportunity for volunteers. Volunteers may feel small motivation towards getting a “gold badge” or something similar! 

  • Volunteer Award Ceremonies  - Award ceremonies are pretty standard, but you can make them virtual and have some fun with them! You can make it themed, ask people to give out funny volunteer superlatives, and more! 

  • Appreciation Video From Employees - If your organization has employees and volunteers - this is definitely a fun idea! Some organizations have done a reenactment of popular movie scenes, lip-syncing, reciting a poem, and more! 

  • Volunteer Spotlight on Social Media - This is a great public way to show volunteer appreciation and recognize your volunteers. You can do every Friday or something, have fun captions that share interesting information, or recognize the number of hours the volunteer has contributed to the organization! 

  • Volunteer Newsletter - This is a fun idea and a volunteer could even be the organizer if they want! This newsletter could be a recap of the organization or a themed weekly or monthly newsletter that helps the volunteers get to know each other better! This is great for organizations who feel their volunteers want to be more social. 

Volunteer Appreciation - Gifts 

It’s pretty much common knowledge that most people like gifts - volunteers are no exception! While many of them volunteer for the mission and to help a needy cause, it is still nice to give them a little gift to show your appreciation that they chose YOUR organization to help. 

Gifts can be little, handmade, or something you decide to spend a little bit of money on! It is all dependent on how strategical you are with your volunteer appreciation. 

  • Handwritten Thank You Notes - This may sound simple, but this is still a very appreciated task by many, and it costs no money! Especially during the pandemic, a handwritten thank you note delivered to someone’s home would make their day! 

  • Virtual Happy Hour - This could be such a treat for volunteers, especially those who are quarantining! Throw a virtual happy hour for volunteers to mingle, play games, and just have fun! You could even provide snacks and drinks or deliver games to everyone’s home to play together on Zoom! 

  • Coupon Books - Gather local coupons and discount codes from restaurants and shops that are willing to donate a coupon code for volunteers. This could potentially be a free project and would really be a great way to show your appreciation. 

  • Outdoor Events - Throw a fun event like an outdoor concert or a drive-in movie for your volunteers! This is a safe way to have a fun event that would normally cost money, but now it is free for your volunteers to showcase your appreciation towards their work and commitment to your organization. 

Once you start thinking of creative ways to show volunteer appreciation, you can create a strategy to incorporate volunteer appreciation into your yearly volunteer management responsibilities!