National Volunteer Week is a great time to step up your volunteer appreciation game.
Here are four effective ways to say thank you to your volunteers.
It’s important to give thanks to your volunteers throughout the year. Your volunteers help your large association get even more done. And thanking them for their time and effort helps to increase volunteer and member retention and improve your overall volunteer program.
April is National Volunteer Month, and is singled-out during the week of April 16 – April 22 this year. It’s a great opportunity to take volunteer appreciation to the next level. Here are four effective ways to elevate the celebration of volunteers and their impact on your association during this volunteer-focused time and beyond!
1. Pick up the phone.
How often do people take the time to pick up the phone to say “thank you” these days? Yes, it takes time – especially when you have a large number of volunteers. But it can go a long way toward letting your volunteers know you truly appreciate their time. It can also be a great opportunity to get feedback (more on that later).
TIP: Go beyond saying “thank you” to your volunteers by providing them with an organized experience and the tools they need to succeed. For example, NetForum association management software (AMS) by Community Brands gives you tools to help your volunteer chapter leaders succeed, provide a more connected committee volunteer experience, make events easier for volunteers to help manage, and encourage more members to volunteer.
2. Send a personal thank you email (or a handwritten note).
Go beyond sending a generic “thanks” email to all of your volunteers by personalizing a message to each one. Really recognize the value of each volunteer’s contribution by sending an email or handwritten note that’s specific about the role and/or impact that the volunteer made. For example:
TIP: Learn more ways to up-level your volunteer program: Read the guide, How to Take Your Association’s Volunteer Program to the Next Level.
3. Give public shout outs.
Publicly thank your volunteers in your member newsletter, via social media, on your website, and during events. Call out specific volunteers who have done exceptional work and thank your full pool of volunteers by listing how many hours they’ve donated and what they’ve helped your organization accomplish. These kudos recognize your current volunteers and have the added benefit of encouraging others to join in.
4. Ask for feedback.
While it’s a good practice to ask your volunteers for feedback throughout the year, also consider sending a short survey and/or asking for feedback in phone calls with volunteers during National Volunteer Week and Month. This approach helps to reinforce the idea that you appreciate your volunteers’ work for your organization and are listening to them so that you can make their experience with your organization even better.
A few questions to ask:
What is the organization doing well? Prompt volunteers to think about their entire volunteer experience – from sign-up and orientation to training and support – and ask what aspects were the most helpful and enjoyable.
What are the most challenging/most rewarding aspects of volunteering? Make sure they understand that by providing this type of candid feedback, they are helping your organization improve future volunteer opportunities.
What type(s) of volunteer opportunities would they like to do, but have never been asked? Ask volunteers if there are any types of volunteer opportunities that would interest them that they haven’t been invited to do yet.
TIP: Keep better track of your members’ volunteer interests and activities using member engagement scoring functionality in NetForum AMS. For instance, use it to watch for patterns of engagement among groups of members and then send them targeted and personalized communications to get them involved with specific volunteer opportunities that align with their interests and preferences. What better way to show volunteers you appreciate them than by providing great opportunities in the first place?
Of course, when you have a lot of volunteers to thank, some of these approaches might seem tough to fit into the schedule year-round, much less for National Volunteer Week. But there are a few things you can do to make it easier. For example:
Spread out emails, notes, and phone calls throughout the week in between meetings and daily tasks.
Ask multiple people in your organization, including board members, to help. (Be sure to thank your board members for their service, too!)
Segment your volunteer list by the number of hours they’ve contributed or the impact they’ve made over the past year; devote more “thank you” time to those who have donated more.