60 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas for Nonprofits

The Keela Team • May 09, 2022

Volunteers are essential for the sustained success of any charitable or nonprofit organization. Their contributions to your community give you the financial cushion you need to continue the vital charitable work you do. So much so that it is estimated that volunteers are worth on average $28.54 an hour and are 66% more likely to donate to the organization that they support than those that don’t volunteer their time at all.

Volunteers give up time in their lives to contribute to your organization and are often your most passionate advocates and champions for your success within their communities. 

All this to say, the contributions that volunteers make to the charitable and nonprofit sectors are invaluable, so we must show our appreciation in the best way possible. We know that may be easier said than done, so we’ve rounded up 60 of our favorite volunteer appreciation ideas – organized by category, to spark your creativity and help you grow your community of supporters. 

Let’s get started!

Virtual Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

1. Give Them a Call

Phone calls can take up a lot of time, but they are an important strategy to implement as they offer your organization the opportunity to form an intimate relationship with your volunteers. Keep the conversation light, catch up with them, and remember something unique about each contact and bring it up in conversation. This will create an incredible bond as they will feel truly valued by your organization. 

2. Send a Thank You Email

Create a special thank you email or letter for your volunteers to express their gratitude for their contribution to your organization. Be sure to communicate the impact of their contributions and keep them up to date on upcoming events that they may be interested in! 

7 Perfect Ways to Say Thank You

We know creating a thank you letter or email from scratch can be a challenge. We have created seven customizable templates to thank donors, volunteers, sponsors, and more!

3. Conduct a Drip Campaign About Volunteer Impact

Drip campaigns – or as some like to call them, nurture sequences, are a targeted and scheduled stream of emails or messages to a specific segmented audience. This style of campaign can be super successful for your organization. Open rates for drip campaigns are 80% higher than single-send emails and have a three times higher average click-through rate (CTR).

Try creating an email drip campaign about the impact that volunteers have on your organization and include a thank you message at the end of each one.

To do this effectively, it’s important to use an email marketing platform like Keela’s that will allow you to easily customize and automate your thank you emails!

4. Video From Your Executive Director

Have your Executive Director record a special thank you for your volunteers. Feel free to distribute the video on social media and through email. This is a great way to add a personal touch to your thank you – especially when trying to communicate with many volunteers.

5. Have Program Participants Film a Thank You Message

Having your team say thank you is essential – but having program participants say thank you can highlight the important impact your volunteers have on your community. This helps to build trust, similar to how donors like to see where their monetary contributions are going. Unable to film? Use a photograph and feature it in a spotlight email.

6. Send Impact Reports

Thank your volunteers and tell them a bit more about the impact of their contributions. A detailed impact report will validate the time and effort that your volunteers put into your organization.

7. Create Custom Filters for Social Media

Filters are a great visual medium to include in your social media strategy as they not only contribute to helping tell a visual story – users love interacting with them! Also, appealing visuals can increase engagement by an astounding 80%. Using customized filters will help you reach your volunteers’ network, and you can also showcase your top volunteers in a story.

Learn How to Send a Personalized Thank You with Keela

Get a glimpse of how Keela’s email marketing tool can help you to build and send engaging emails and thank you letters to your donors and supporters.

Volunteer Appreciation Event Ideas

8. Volunteer Party

Who doesn’t love a good party? Host a party with fun music, complimentary food, and drinks, and bring your volunteers and staff together to mingle. You can also incorporate fun activities like a raffle prize to encourage participation and boost morale.

9. Roll Out the Red Carpet

Go above and beyond with your volunteer party by truly catering to the volunteers. Roll out a red carpet, get some bubbly, and treat the volunteers like rock stars. This is a great way to ensure your volunteers feel valued.

10. Family Festival

Volunteering is a big deal. Not only are individuals taking time out of their day to help out, but they are also taking time away from their families. So invite the whole family for a special event, thanking them every step of the way by giving them the royal treatment they deserve!

11. Surprise Party

Surprise parties are fun. One creative way you can pull one over on your volunteers is to have them come to a routine volunteer opportunity—perhaps helping to serve food at an event. When they arrive, turn the tables and have this event be all about them! Treat them to some great food and company.

12. Host a Car Wash

If you’ve volunteered long enough; you’ve probably washed a car or two. Have your staff break out the hoses and invite your volunteers down for a car wash – on the house!

13. Host a Potluck

A good old-fashioned potluck is a great way to bring together your volunteers in a family setting. Have your staff contribute items to the potluck and take the evening to really get to know your volunteers and why they are invested in working with your organization.

14. Watch a Show At The Local Theater Together

Do you have a local theater? Try partnering with them to get some discounted or free tickets to a play. This is a great gift for volunteers, especially those who like a night out.

15. Take Them Out For Brunch

Have some early birds on your volunteer roster? Treat the team to a brunch gathering at a local restaurant! 

16. Host a Cookout/BBQ

Break out the grill! Buy some hot dogs and burgers and barbecue some laid-back food for your volunteers. Ensure your volunteers know about the barbecue and the free food – and be sure to have fun games to play while they are there, like badminton, bocce ball, or horseshoes! Make a game out of it with prizes for the winners, and be sure to make a special announcement to thank each volunteer while they are there.

17. Play a Round of Golf

Do you have any golf lovers in your volunteer base? See if you can partner with a local golf course to give away a free round of golf for a group of your volunteers. Even if they are not avid golfers, this could be a fun way to learn and interact with one another

18. Hit The Bowling Lanes

Hit the lanes and give your volunteers a few free games at the local bowling alley. This is a great activity to break up the routine, and it offers a great opportunity for your volunteers to do something together. You can even make it a retro theme and get everyone to dress up in their favorite ’70s attire!

19. Take Them Out for a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

Taking a volunteer out for dinner really shows a volunteer how much you appreciate them. Dinner is typically a bit more expensive and takes place outside of normal work hours. Try reserving these dinners for more senior volunteers, and those you are hoping to retain long-term.

20. Service Auction

This is a classic fundraiser. Have members of your staff put up different services for auction, and have them up for grabs on a first-come-first-serve basis for your volunteers. This is a fun twist and can give your volunteer a gift that they really need.

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Gift Ideas for Showing Volunteer Appreciation

21. Get a Card Signed by Everyone In Your Organization

Circulate a thank you card around the office. Make sure everyone signs and shares a small note of thanks. When the volunteer receives this card, they’ll feel supported and encouraged. A physical card also lets people know that it passed through someone’s hands and that it’s not just an automated message. This would be a good idea to implement at the end of each year and you can highlight what their contributions helped your organization achieve.

Want to save on paper? Create a virtual card with a picture from each individual who signs as well!

22. Tickets to a Sports Game

Do you have a local sports team? Partner with them for some free tickets and say thank you to your volunteers for a night out taking in some competitive sports.

23. Movie Tickets

Finding time to go to the movies is actually a hard thing to do. But when it’s free – it makes it a bit easier! Show your volunteers some love by scoring some free movie passes for them.

24. Host a Raffle

Engage your volunteers with a company raffle! Distribute raffle tickets to celebrate milestones and achievements such as their contribution to a large event you hosted, a donation that they helped to solicit, or maybe just bringing in positive energy to the team all the time! Raffle prizes can include gift cards to local restaurants, hotel stays, or a gift basket. The opportunities are endless!

25. Buy Them Coffee

Coffee lovers are everywhere. Treat your volunteers to some coffee, and take some time to chat with them. It’s important to talk about how much you appreciate their work and everything they have been doing for your organization. 

If you can’t commit to meeting in person, another option would be to gift them a preloaded gift card for a local coffee shop and include a thank you note!

26. A Welcome Gift 

Welcome gifts are a great way to make a good first impression with your newly recruited volunteers! Take this opportunity to start on a good foot by gifting them a welcome package that includes branded items such as a tote bag, a notepad, or a keychain. Make sure to include a handwritten letter welcoming them to your team. 

27. Baked Goodies from Staff

Bake sales are always fun. Get your staff together to bake some treats, and then hand them out to your volunteers as a simple thank you. It’s an easy event to put together and can be pretty effective.

28. Buy Them Flowers or a Plant

Flowers are always a nice touch as a thank you gift. Look for something that is potted and easy to transport. This will make for an easy gift to hand out. If you’re looking to splurge on some of your more senior volunteers, consider partnering with a local flower shop and having flowers delivered to them!

29. Gift Basket

A good gift basket is a wonderful way to show your volunteer appreciation. There are tons of goodies that you can pack into the basket, and you can customize them to make sure that they fit with your volunteer and organization. Include some branded elements and try to include something small that may be unique to that specific volunteer. 

30. Gift a Baking Set

One of the staples in fundraising and volunteering is the bake sale. Celebrate that with the gift of some baking materials. You can package these together and ignite a new passion for food within your volunteers.

31. Create a Slideshow or Photo-book

Do you have pictures from your volunteer’s time with you? You can use this as an opportunity to bring all of those together and flex your creative muscles a bit. Showcase the highlights of your volunteer’s impact and share this slideshow or photo book with them. It would be a heartfelt show of appreciation for your volunteer.

32. Prepaid Gift Cards

Use a preloaded gift card to thank you for the time that volunteers spend supporting your organization! This is a great idea since gift cards for specific stores often go to waste. Buying a more generic gift card such as Visa or Mastercard ensures that everyone can use it! Besides, who doesn’t love cash?

Volunteer Appreciation Ideas for Social Media

33. Tweet About Your Volunteers

Use your organization’s Twitter account to shout out your volunteers for their work. Use pictures, and tag your volunteer in the tweet as well. Boost engagement by asking your staff to engage with the post either through commenting, liking, or retweeting. Remember, you want the volunteers to feel like they have the support of your community behind them!

34. Create Short Videos Celebrating Volunteers’ Contributions

Create short videos that can be used across various social media channels to highlight your volunteer contributions. You can turn these videos into a TikTok or Instagram Reel or use the stories feature on Instagram and Facebook to get creative about the impact that volunteers make on your organization. You can showcase particular volunteers or have some “behind the scenes” action to show everyone how the magic happens.

35. LinkedIn Endorsements

More and more individuals are creating LinkedIn profiles, including the volunteers at your organizations. One of the best ways to stand out on LinkedIn is to have endorsements. Take some time to write glowing endorsements for your volunteers, and encourage your staff to do the same.

36. Write a Blog Post About Volunteer Appreciation

Does your organization have a blog?

Write a story about your volunteers and even highlight individual volunteers for their contributions to the organization. This will also be a great piece of content for others to refer to when promoting volunteering for your organization in the future. Depending on the size of your volunteer program, this is something you can feature each quarter to showcase different volunteers and highlight what they achieved with your organization within that time.

37. Write a Social Media Post To Highlight Volunteers

Take advantage of your organization’s social media channels to write posts about your volunteers. These will have a bit more of an “official” feel since they are being sent out by the organization and not just an individual who works there. Include a picture of the volunteer and have it put into a branded design to help boost your organization’s visual awareness.

Bonus Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

38. Send a Traditional Thank You Letter

Snail mail might not be the preferred method of communicating these days, but that makes it that much more special! Especially for an older demographic. This one may require effort, but it’s always nice to go that extra mile and show just how much you care about that individual. 

Using a CRM like Keela that offers a direct mail option will make it easy to personalize and send out your traditional letters!

39. Write a Reference Letter

Write a letter of reference for your volunteers to show appreciation for their efforts. Highlight what the volunteer has worked on and how it has positively contributed to your organization’s mission. 

40. Take Them Out For Lunch

Have more time on your hands? Treat your volunteers to lunch. This gives you a lot of time to chat with your volunteer. This should be reserved for nonprofits that have a bit more capacity. But volunteers would really appreciate this.

41. Create a “VIP” Parking Spot For Your Volunteers

Have you ever gotten stuck with a far parking spot or been hooped with the cost of parking to volunteer your time? It is a bit of a deflating feeling. A creative way to thank your volunteers is by giving them prime VIP treatment with a special parking spot reserved just for them.

42. Have a Seat at Your Board to Represent Volunteers

Your board is an important part of your nonprofit and your work. To show how much you value your volunteers, why not try giving them a voice on your Board. Try having a seat at the table to represent the volunteer voice.

43. Dedicate Places In Your Office Or Community To Volunteers

Is there a volunteer you want to go above and beyond for? Try dedicating a space to them. Ideally, this space is an important space where impact work is being done. This will make your volunteers feel special and forever a part of your work! It’s a great volunteer appreciation tool.

44. Write a Song Thanking Your Volunteers

Does your team have any musicians? Try composing a song with fun lyrics to recognize your volunteers. Have fun with it, and be silly—just be genuine when it comes to your thank you. You can even film the song and send the video out to all of your volunteers, so they can watch it whenever they want.

45. Virtual Hugs and Applause

It’s hard to get in front of every volunteer—but you might be able to do it with technology. Film your team hugging a camera or clapping, and send virtual hugs and applause to all of your volunteers. It may feel silly, but these small bits of effort surprise volunteers and make them feel special.

46. Make a Pledge In a Volunteer’s Name

Is there a big capital campaign your team is working towards? A great way to say thank you to a volunteer and really make them feel like they are part of the impact is to make a pledge to the campaign in their name. If you can do this (and we know that not every nonprofit will), this can really show a volunteer that you appreciate them.

47. Get Volunteers in Front of the Camera and Media

Share the spotlight and make your volunteers the star of the show. If you are talking to the media about certain events, bring your volunteers along and let the media interview them. This is a great way to build their own profile.

48. Use Puns

Puns can be cringe-inducing at times. But, if you have the right audience and the right tone, it can actually hit the ball out of the park! Things like “We donut know what we would do without you” or “We love you a  latte” could be fun places to start your brainstorming special gifts. Here is a list of 32 volunteer gifts with puns.

49. Volunteer Appreciation through SWAG

SWAG (an acronym for Stuff We All Get ) items are often coveted by people outside of the organization. Create some items that are exclusive for your volunteers and hand them out as a thank you. It will also make them feel special because of the exclusivity.

50. Special Name Tags

Most of the time, volunteers don’t have name tags. If they’re lucky, they get a sticker or a lanyard. You can really make someone feel appreciated by making them feel like a part of the team. Try ordering some special name tags, and branding with your organization’s logo.

51. Time with the Executive Director

Try giving away lunch or a meeting with your ED to show your volunteer appreciation. Individuals usually love networking opportunities but struggle to find the time to do IT. As a thank you to your volunteers, get them some face time with your team leaders.

52. Create Special Awards

Recognize your volunteers for their amazing contributions. But try to be specific about it. Was there someone who put in the most volunteer hours? Did you notice a volunteer that had a great attitude? Was there someone who constantly went above and beyond? Create awards with certificates and present them to your volunteers. This form of volunteer appreciation is easy to do and worth the effort.

53. Recognize Volunteers At An Existing Event

Use one of your bigger events to recognize volunteers. This public acknowledgment and recognition will go a long way in showing your appreciation.

54. Nominate a Volunteer for Municipal, Regional or National Awards

There are often municipal, regional, or national awards that celebrate volunteers. Seek these out, and if you have a volunteer that fits the criteria, put in the time and effort to fill out an application for them. Receiving one of these awards is a great form of volunteer appreciation.

55. Take Time to Recognize Length Of Service

Celebrate volunteer anniversary through years of service award. You can get a special gift or token to represent each year of service. The longer they have served, the bigger the gift!

56. Annual Report Recognition

One of the ways you can show your volunteer appreciation is through your annual report. Take a page to thank your volunteers for the work that they’ve done. If you have the room, why not even publish their names to really give them some importance.

57. Internal Challenge

Your team members have likely worked with volunteers throughout their time at your organization. Try challenging each of your coworkers to recognize at least one volunteer for their work. This will get the entire company engaged and might even touch on some of the volunteers that you might have missed.

58. Create An Annual Volunteer Award

When you create volunteer awards, try to make them something you can measure year over year. This can create a bit of competition and an even greater sense of fulfillment when you recognize a donor for their hard work. You can even award them at an annual ceremony with members of your organization in attendance.

59. Take Out An Ad For Volunteer Appreciation

If you have a good relationship with your local paper, see if you can take out an ad to thank your volunteers for their work. When the story gets published, send this to your volunteers and make sure they feel acknowledged. This can turn into a great highlight for volunteers and their time with your organization.

60. Board Recognition

Invite your volunteers to a board meeting and have your board members extend their congratulations in person. This can be a great way to show the impact of volunteering and to let your volunteers know that everyone in the organization is appreciative of their work.

It is reported that only 55% of nonprofits assess volunteer impact, which is staggering considering volunteerism is valued at over $184 billion dollars

Properly investing in your volunteer program is making a long-term investment into your organization. It promotes a stronger organization by building a community of supporters through your volunteers, which also helps you to diversify and expand your reach.

Use these 60 volunteer appreciation ideas to help boost your volunteer retention rates and make a bigger impact in your community!

Want to Learn More About How Keela Can Help Increase Volunteer Engagement?

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