April is national volunteer month, so we thought we would share some less than obvious ideas for showing your appreciation to those who give of their time and talent so freely. “Obvious” doesn’t mean unimportant. Thank-yous in the form of letters, notes, gifts, and spoken words are invaluable and their impact should not be under-estimated.
To augment traditional thank-yous, consider these five ideas:
- Tie their work to the big picture. We all lose sight of the bigger picture from time to time. Your volunteers are just as susceptible to that phenomenon. It’s an easy fix, however. For example, reminding hospital volunteers that they are helping people heal is completely valid, even if they never come in contact with patients.
- Give them the tools to talk about their work. Often, volunteers won’t talk about their work to their peers because they do not want to sound boastful or they do not feel adequately equipped to do so. Giving them the facts, stories, and issues to discuss can help them accurately share your story without shyness.
- Solicit their opinions. Everyone wants to feel like their voice matters so make sure your volunteers’ voices do. Listening to their ideas can take a number of forms, such as one-on-one conversations with senior staff or regular surveys, and everything in between.
- Uncover their unspoken wants. What motivates people to volunteer? It’s different for everyone but honoring those motivations is important. For example, perhaps they are new to town or recently divorced. Guiding them toward a social element of the work would present a nice thank you. Maybe they’re in a career transition and introductions to others associated with that field would be appreciated.
- Translate their time into dollars. Many organizations publicize what a certain donation will buy. For example, a gift of X will provide families with Y numbers of meals. Turn it around, and volunteers know that their 10 hours of painting translates into X dollars saved.
These ideas won’t work for everyone or be appropriate in every situation, but they may just give your volunteers the boost they deserve. Do you have other ideas? Great! Let’s hear them! Use any of the social media links below to start a conversation!