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100 ways to thank, support your volunteers
31 August 2006

Here are 100 different ways to thank and support your volunteers.
  1. Create a climate in which volunteers can feel motivated
  2. Here are some ways to thank and support your volunteers.
  3. Create a climate in which volunteers can feel motivated
  4. Say ‘thank you’ often, and mean it
  5. Match the volunteer’s desires with the organization’s needs
  6. Send birthday cards. Send a card at Christmas  
  7. Provide a clear role description for every volunteer
  8. Make sure new volunteers are welcomed warmly
  9. Highlight the impact that the volunteer contribution is having on the organization
  10. Show an interest in volunteers’ personal interests and their outside life
  11. Tell volunteers they have done a good job
  12. Give volunteers a real voice within the organization
  13. Set up a volunteer support group
  14. Provide meaningful and enjoyable work.
  15. Always have work for your volunteers to do and never waste their time
  16. Send ‘thank you’ notes and letters when appropriate
  17. Smile when you see them!
  18. Say something positive about their personal qualities
  19. Involve volunteers in decision-making processes
  20. Give a certificate to commemorate anniversaries of involvement
  21. Develop a volunteer policy
  22. Allow volunteers the opportunity to debrief, especially if they work in stressful situations
  23. Let volunteers put their names to something they have helped to produce or to make happen
  24. Differentiate clearly between the roles of paid staff, trainees and volunteers
  25. Have a volunteer comments box and consider any suggestions carefully
  26. Make sure the volunteer coordinator is easily accessible and has an ‘open door’ policy
  27. Provide insurance cover
  28. Supervise volunteers’ work
  29. Have a vision for volunteer involvement in your organization
  30. Do not impose new policies and procedures without volunteers’ inputs
  31. Ask volunteers themselves how the organization can show it cares
  32. Permit volunteers to attend seminars, conferences and workshops from time to time
  33. Give volunteers a proper induction
  34. Celebrate the year’s work together
  35. Offer to write volunteers letters of reference
  36. Accept that different volunteers are able to offer different levels of involvement
  37. Accept that an individual volunteer’s ability to commit may change over time
  38. Ask volunteers’ opinions when developing new policies and strategies
  39. Make sure the director (especially in large organizations) shows her/his personal appreciation of the volunteers’ work
  40. Pass on any positive comments about volunteers from clients to the volunteers themselves
  41. Provide the opportunity for ‘leave of absence’
  42. Add volunteers to memo and e-mail distribution lists
  43. Set solid goals for volunteers and keep communicating them
  44. Provide car or bike parking for volunteers
  45. Give the volunteer a title which reflects the work they do (not just ‘volunteer’)
  46. Consider providing, or paying for, child care for volunteers who are parents
  47. Inform the local press about the excellent work of your volunteers
  48. Undertake individual supervision and support sessions
  49. Always be courteous
  50. Maintain regular contact with volunteers, even if they work ‘off-site’ or at odd hours
  51. Allow volunteers to ‘get out’ without feeling guilty
  52. Keep volunteers informed of changes in structure and personnel
  53. Provide adequate clothing and name badges if appropriate
  54. Use quotes from volunteers in leaflets and annual reports
  55. Devote resources (time and money) to volunteer support
  56. Count up how many hours volunteers contribute and publicise this
  57. Ensure all paid staff and trainees know how to work effectively with volunteers
  58. Provide accredited training
  59. Hang a volunteer photo board in a prominent position
  60. Give volunteers the opportunity to evaluate their own performance and role
  61. Do not overwhelm volunteers
  62. Build volunteers’ self-esteem by giving them a sense of ownership of their work
  63. Always be appreciative of volunteers’ contributions
  64. Ensure volunteers have adequate space and equipment to do their work
  65. Provide excellent training and coaching
  66. Recognize that volunteers play a unique role
  67. Have an annual volunteer award ceremony
  68. Focus on the problem, if there is one, not the personality of the volunteer
  69. Create two-way communication processes
  70. Have occasional lunches, dinners, barbecues, picnics, etc
  71. Create a volunteer notice board
  72. Set up a volunteers forum
  73. Allow volunteers to get involved in solving problems
  74. Pay for an eye test if they sit in front of a computer all day
  75. Review the progress of volunteers on a regular basis
  76. Reimburse out-of-pocket expenses
  77. Conduct an exit interview when a volunteer leaves
  78. Have a ‘volunteer voice’ section in your newsletter
  79. Be honest at all times
  80. Provide constructive appraisal
  81. Make volunteers feel good about themselves
  82. Don’t treat volunteers as ‘second class citizens’
  83. Ensure confidentiality for your volunteers
  84. Present an occasional inexpensive gift
  85. Provide volunteers with a ‘rights and responsibilities’ charter
  86. Don’t bully them into doing tasks which they have made clear they don’t want to do
  87. Give free membership to your organization
  88. Ensure you have adequate support skills yourself
  89. Ask why volunteers are leaving or have left
  90. Throw a volunteers party
  91. Use surveys as a way of eliciting your volunteers’ views
  92. Provide free refreshments during coffee and tea breaks
  93. Celebrate United Nations International Volunteer Day (5 December each year)
  94. Suggest sources of help and support for personal problems
  95. Allow volunteers to air legitimate grievances and make sure they are dealt with swiftly
  96. Send a card or flowers if volunteers are ill or bereaved
  97. Encourage them to sit on committees and attend meetings
  98. Ensure a safe and healthy working environment
  99. Allow volunteers to take on more challenging responsibilities
  100. Make sure that every volunteer has equal access to support