12 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

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There are plenty of free resources available to us...air, water, the forest. But one of the most valuable ones is the act of volunteerism. Every day, countless individuals give their time and resources to make their communities better and lives brighter. You see caring volunteers at hospitals, schools, nursing homes and senior centers mentoring patients, residents or students. You see them cleaning parks and beachs or planting flowers. You see them handing out water at a race.

You may say volunteering is one of our greatest resources. Such acts of caring along with good deeds should not go unrecognized. National Volunteer Week, in April, was established for just this reason. But, many lend their time during other parts of the year, so a few words of praise and a thank you mean so much to these special people.

Suitable any time of the year, these tried and true gestures of thanks will serve to inspire and motivate a group of volunteers. Implement one or more of them during National Volunteer Week orduring holiday seasons for maximum impact. Low cost and unique,volunteers will feel like a million bucks when they receive a gift of appreciation. The themes that drive the ideas lend themselves to volunteer organizations with limited funds, returning maximum impact for a low financial output.

For 2019, a staggering selection of volunteer appreciation and recruiting gifts are available with all new slogans and graphics. Volunteers will be proud to receive a shirt, lapel pin, mug or lunch bag with the newest themes which include "Proud Member of Volunteer Nation", "Volunteer Strong" and this year's main slogan; "Volunteers: Serving, Giving, Caring". Tie in your Volunteer Appreciation ceremony by decorating your facility with posters, balloons and other available items with any of these great sentiments.

HERE ARE 12 GREAT IDEAS TO HELP YOU CELEBRATE VOLUNTEER WEEK:

Cover a Few Expenses – Gift cards are a great way to give volunteers a break on their “fuel” for the day. Coffee shops, restaurants and music download sites are perfect for gift cards, providing the volunteer with a useful treat.

Help Them Carry Their Load – Many volunteers go from workday job straight to their volunteer responsibilities, having to change their attire and carry necessities along with them. These dedicated contributors should carry their needs in style. A duffel bag or backpack can make it easier to tote their supplies from location to location.

Volunteer of the Year, Month and Week – Recognizing volunteers for their efforts is a big part of rewarding their noble contributions. Letting volunteers know they are being honored on a yearly, monthly and for larger organizations, weekly basis gives them the chance to bask in the pride of what they are doing to help out communities and residents.

Spread Holiday Cheer – Volunteer groups are often busy during the weeks leading up to the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter and other celebrations are crunch time for those groups who supply meals, clothes and shelter to the less privileged.

Wear Hearts on Sleeves – A volunteer t-shirt is so much more than an article of clothing. Organizations can instill pride in their members through the gift of a t-shirt, giving them the ability to wear their “hearts on their sleeves.” Mixing up the wearables with jackets, hats and others help keep the volunteer spirit going through the year.

Trade Ideas & Shirts – Organizations that send representatives to meetings and conventions can look forward to a wealth of ideas and connections when they return. The camaraderie is reinforced as the delegates become friends and engage in t-shirt trades. Attending the conference with a supply of t-shirts gives these proud volunteers the chance to spread awareness of their group as well as acquire souvenirs from their counterparts.

Pin The Recognition – An iconic symbol of achievement and recognition, the lapel pin is used in organizations of all kinds. Volunteer groups are no exception, their members finding pride in wearing lapel pins that mark their contributions. From volunteer of the year to an appreciation pin for National Volunteer Week, these mementos will serve to reflect the hard work of the individual.

Ribbons & Pins – Volunteer conventions are a great way to meet new people and exchange stories of contributions and successes. The volunteers that attend these events can engage in the popular practice of collecting state pins. Affixing the pins they collect through trade to ribbons, volunteers can show off their networking skill as well as their organizational affiliation and pride.

Big Win With Biggest Loser – Inspire volunteers to lead by example with a “biggest loser” style contest. Reward participation and goal achievement with a health related gifts that can help them along their journey. Pedometers, nutritional guides and other giveaways can be printed with motivational slogans along with appreciation for their philanthropic efforts.

Lunch With a Bunch of Vols – Volunteers can work up an appetite while they pitch in. Turn the lunch tables on them with a surprise buffet. A presentation of the contributions of volunteer staff members while they enjoy a celebration meal will help organizations reinforce pride in their successes and a desire to continue their efforts. An insulated lunch bag can go a long way to keep the lunchtime message of thanks going throughout the year.

Caffeinate Their Commute – A travel mug is a big part of a commuter’s day. Toting along a hot cup of coffee or tea can help make a car ride, train ride or even walk into an enjoyable experience. Each volunteer can be given a daily reminder of the big part they play in the lives of others by rewarding them with a gift of a travel mug during National Volunteer Week or other appreciation celebration.

Give Back With a Snack – A quick pick me up in the form of a snack is always appreciated by volunteers, especially when they are putting their all into a project. Pairing a snack with a message of appreciation from the community or organization makes it even more fulfilling. A snack pack with a sentiment of praise, whether purchased as a package or hand made will refuel the volunteer’s body and soul.

In case you are wondering just how big National Volunteer Week is, just check out the official proclamation from the White House. But volunteering is not just limited to one week of the year. And people also volunteer at different times for different events and causes. So being prepared to say thanks all year long will help you encourage members of the community to volunteer more and will also help you promote the rewards of being a volunteer to others.