Creative Ways to Say “Thanks” That Will Increase Volunteer Engagement

Guest post by Sarah Clare

Saying thanks can lead to more engagement

Saying “thanks” in creative ways can lead to more engagement.

Finding ways to show your appreciation for your volunteers will help foster good relationships, build loyalty, and encourage them to recruit other volunteers through word-of-mouth about their good experience.

Here are three ways that you can give back to your volunteers to show your appreciation and offer incentive for continued volunteering besides gifts or payment:

College Credit

Many nonprofits offer their volunteers college credit in exchange for a certain number of hours. This requires working with the college or university where they attend to provide the proper documentation. The student may also be required to write a paper or submit another project for the “term.”

The amount of college credit given will vary by college – anywhere from 1 to 4 hours is standard. Talk to representatives at schools in your area to find out what you need to do to offer this incentive.

Reference Letter

Students and other volunteers often sign up for service as a way to gain experience or to pad their resume. Why not help your volunteers by offering to write a reference letter for future employers or applications for programs of study or internships? It’s an easy way to let your volunteers know that you appreciate a job well done, and by letting others know about the good work they have done, you are helping them advance.

It won’t take you long to write a reference letter, and anything you say should be a genuine assessment of your volunteer’s work.

Networking Opportunities

Social gatherings are a nice way to show your appreciation for your volunteers, and they also provide good opportunities for them to network with others in the nonprofit industry. These gatherings can help your volunteers make connections that lead to job opportunities and advancement. Again, it’s a simple way for you to help your volunteers and to show your appreciation.

Finding ways to offer your volunteers these incentives not only shows your appreciation for them, but it encourages others to volunteer with your nonprofit by showing them how much you value your volunteers and want to find ways to give back.

What kinds of incentives does your nonprofit offer volunteers? Share them in the comments!

Sarah Clare is a writer and oversees the site, where she has recently been researching project management freeware. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking and scrapbooking.

4 thoughts on “Creative Ways to Say “Thanks” That Will Increase Volunteer Engagement

  1. This blog by Sarah Clare bring up a number of interesting points when it comes to thanking volunteers. I would like to share two best practices that I followed in my 43 years a volunteer engagement practitioner.
    I used the old fashion thank you card extensively in showing appreciation to my volunteers. One can make thank you cards custom suited for any volunteers. I recall sending out a thank you card to a volunteer who was a cat lover. I shopped around for a card that had cats on it. The volunteer later came back to me and said “ I know your appreciation was sincere by the way you went out of your way to make the thank you personal.”
    Another approach I used to show appreciation was to assist my agency in developing a bill of rights for volunteers. The tenants to that bill of rights illustrated the agency’s over appreciation to its volunteers that they were equal partners with staff.

  2. One of the most important ways to thank volunteers and make them feel a part of the organization is to give them proper training and support, to take the time to listen to them (many of our volunteers at Hospice of the Western Reserve) really enjoy the relationships they develop with staff and other volunteers. Professionally we are looking into offering continuing education credits to our professional volunteers (nurses, physicians, social workers, expressive therapists, and councilors).