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Recognition Assistance

Why is recognition important to your volunteer program?
All volunteers want to know that their contribution is valued and not taken for granted. Here are a few tips you can draw from to help your organization recognize the work of your volunteers as meaningful and appreciated:

  • Make it a priority. 
  • Do it often. 
  • Do it in different ways. 
  • Be sincere. 
  • Recognize the person, not the work. 
  • Make it appropriate to the achievement. 
  • Be consistent. 
  • Be timely. 
  • Make it unique. 

For the complete list of Volunteer Recognition advice, please see pdf file.

What’s Next?
Recognition begins the moment a volunteer walks through your door, and should continue year round!

Learn what motivates your volunteers, and make your recognition appropriate to what he/she thinks is important.

Finally, to develop best practices in volunteer recognition, you need to plan ahead and know what you want to do. It is important to share your ideas with staff and volunteers. Most importantly, you need to be sincere about saying thank you. Make sure that your thanks are meaningful and appropriate for your volunteers.

Here are just a few ways you can say thank you:

This is a condensed list of the many ways an organization can thank its volunteers. For the complete list, please see the PDF at bottom of page.

Thank Them

  • Sometimes a heartfelt, personal “thank-you” is all a volunteer needs to feel appreciated.

Treat Them Right….

  • Always be courteous.
  • Always greet your volunteers by name.
  • Make sure the volunteers are doing work that is meaningful to them and the community. 

Provide Office “Perks”…

  • Space for them to do their work
  • A volunteer mailbox or notice board so they can retrieve memos or files when they stop by
  • An area where volunteers can relax

Praise Them…

  • Offer meaningful praise
  • Praise them to friends, family, employers
  • Send a thank-you note to the volunteer’s employer, noting the impact and contribution that the volunteer has made.

Food for Thanks…

  • Offer coffee and treats
  • Throw pizza or ice cream parties
  • Invite a volunteer out to lunch or for coffee.

Tokens of Appreciation…

  • Provide special interest materials to targeted volunteers.
  • Plan an organizational outing (picnic, ball game, family day, brunch etc.)           
  • Take photos of volunteers 'on the job', and insert in a 'Thank you' card; keep photos of volunteers at events throughout the year.

Skills Training…

  • Invite volunteers to participate in workshops and involve them as speakers.
  • Enable a volunteer to move on to expanded or higher level responsibilities.
  • Provide educational resources for the volunteers to utilize (videos, pamphlets, etc.

Public Recognition…

  • ·Recognize them at staff or board meetings.
  • Write letters of reference to prospective employers.
  • Nominate a volunteer for a leadership position.

Celebrate, especially successes

  • Share the volunteer’s personal success story
  • Have a photo booth at your volunteer appreciation event, capture fun images of your volunteers celebrating.
  • Organize a holiday open house for your volunteers.

Keep them informed…

  • Share the results of program evaluations with volunteers so they can see their impact on clients and programs.
  • Recognize and share innovative suggestions or programs.
  • Demonstrate the impact of their work

Invite them to deepen their involvement…

  • Ask volunteers for input and feedback on programs, policies, goals, etc.
  • Include them in planning meetings
  • Give them more complex assignments or more responsibility

For more volunteer recognition ideas, see the Volunteer Recognition PDF.


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