Skip to main content

News / Articles

Volunteer Recognition Tips and Tricks

Polly Roach

Volunteer Recognition Ideas from Minnesota Colleagues Developed by the MN Association for Volunteer Administration

Thank yous
• Keep a log of comments from staff/clients; when you hear a volunteer has been praised or appreciated, send a note of thanks
• Encourage others to say thank you
• Send handwritten postcards of thanks
• Say “Thank you” to volunteers daily

Learning opportunities
• Provide volunteers with advanced training
• Invite to staff in-services/trainings
• Send to relevant conferences

Additional responsibility

• Ask veteran volunteers to orient and mentor newer volunteers
• Promote volunteers to lead roles and offer more challenging tasks

Networking opportunities
• Set up times for group interaction
• Provide lunch or social hours for a chance to connect with other volunteers
• Arrange lunch with the CEO or key staff

Organizational accomplishments
• Report client satisfaction to volunteers
• Share program milestones and successes
• Send e-mail alerts to volunteers when the organization is mentioned in the news

Volunteer preferences
• Survey all volunteers to find out how they might like to be recognized
• Discuss options during the initial interview

Feedback opportunities
• Seek informal advice from volunteers
• Survey them regularly to gather input

Small gifts
• Take and share pictures showing personal achievements and ‘on the job’ moments
• Give out candy with a related note – i.e., Junior Mints - “You are worth a mint”
• Keep a goody treasure bag (i.e., treats, pencils, etc.) for spontaneous thank yous
On-site recognition
• Provide ribbons for volunteers to wear at work to draw attention to them
• Share volunteer birthdays/achievements with staff and other volunteers so that they can offer congratulations

Personal attention
• Send birthday cards; remember to send get well and sympathy cards if appropriate
• Seek one-on-one moments to check in
• Send ‘anniversary of volunteering’ cards
• Make contact on volunteer anniversaries to talk about how their assignments are going

Public acknowledgement
• Post volunteer thank yous on social media
• Create a “Volunteer Hall of Fame”
• Take pictures and post in common areas
• Highlight volunteer accomplishments in organization newsletter and local newspapers
• Nominate outstanding volunteers for awards

Working conditions
• Create a welcoming atmosphere – coffee and tea available during shifts, treats, etc.
• Provide volunteers with their own work space and a comfortable work environment
• Ensure access to needed equipment and technology, along with appropriate training
• Provide durable volunteer name badges
• Introduce to all staff and volunteers

Project volunteers
• Include project results in a thank you letter
• Make sure staff and other volunteers are aware of project implementation and results
• Offer lunch/food during project times
• Throw an end-of-project dinner/lunch/happy hour celebration
• Track project intervals and recognize completion of key goals or milestones
• Develop team incentives/friendly competition between project volunteer groups
• Present volunteers with project-based recognition items – certificates, tee shirts, etc.
• Send thank yous to employers of work teams

© 2019 Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA)
Join MAVA to access more volunteer recognition ideas and “Members Only” resources