10 Great Ideas for Volunteer Appreciation Week

National Volunteer Appreciation Week occurs every year in the third week of April. For 2023, it is the week of April 16th – 22th. This week is a great way to recognize your volunteers and let them know how much you appreciate all of their efforts.

Just a little side note, the month of April is actually Global Volunteer Month & National Volunteer Month. So if the third week of April doesn’t work for you, any day in April is a great time to celebrate your volunteers!

“The solution to each problem that confronts us begins with an individual who steps forward and who says, ‘I can help.’”

President George H.W. Bush, Founder of Points of Light

National Volunteer Week Dates (2023- 2027)

YearWeek of
2023April 16
2024April 21
2025April 20
2026April 19
2027April 18

Great Ideas for Volunteer Appreciation Week

1. Nominate a Volunteer for the Daily Points of Light Award

The Daily Points of Light Award was established in January 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. During his presidency, he recogonized more than 1,000 volunteers as “points of light”. This award is now administered by the Points of Light organization. It is a great way to “honor those who lead and lend support to causes they care about.” There are certain eligiblity requirements and judging criteria that surround this award. Check out the Points of Light website to determine if any of your volunteers are eligible!

2. Create a Kudoboard for a Deserving Volunteer

A Kudoboard is an online method of creating a group thank you card. Your organization can create a board and then individuals can add their own message or photo to that board. This is especially useful if many people in different locations want to say thank you to the particular volunteer. These kudoboards are also great for sending birthday wishes to volunteers. In addition, you could celebrate volunteer anniversary dates with the organization. This option does cost a bit if you want to create multiple boards, but the price per board is actually cheaper than buying physical cards. Check out their pricing here.

You could do something similar on a social media platform, however, some volunteers don’t use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. So this Kudoboard would be a perfect solution to celebrating those volunteers.

If your volunteer isn’t online at all, then check out the next obvious option in #3.

3. Write a Handwritten Thank You Note

This is slowly becoming a lost art form. In today’s world people lean toward thanking people with a quick email or text. I’m certainly guilty of this. A social media post is nice, but not everyone will see it. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these methods, but a handwritten note make a more powerful impact. It is more personal because it cannot be cut and pasted together. If cost is a concern, buy a pack of thank you cards, that will be the cheapest card option.

If you choose to write a note, here are four tips to make them even more effective.

  1. Make it personal to that particular volunteer. Mention the specific project they worked on, instead of just saying “thank you for helping our organization”.
  2. Send it quickly after the volunteer’s work.
  3. Check the spelling of the volunteer’s name.
  4. Relate their service back to the broader mission.

When a volunteer feels appreciated, they are more likely to volunteer again. I have been volunteering for more than 25 years and I tend to return back to those organization that appreciate me the most.

3. Establish an Annual Award

Let’s face it, everyone likes to get an award. My daughters and I volunteered for six years with National Charity League (NCL). This organization has very defined awards that are given each year based on a variety of metrics. My daughters were very motivated in trying to earn certain awards, especially when they were measurable. In NCL, my daughters knew if they volunteered for a certain number of hours, they would automatically get a particular award. Awards were also given to the moms in NCL. However, the awards for the adults were more based on impact than number of hours served. Awards are especially great for student volunteers, because they can add it to their college applications.

My biggest suggestion for you when you are creating an award is to make it quantifiable. It helps if every volunteer knows what it takes to earn the award.

5. Chalk the Walk

If your organization has a physical location, then this option is super easy and cheap. You might be wondering what the heck is “chalk the walk.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the simple act of using kids colored chalk to write positive messages on the walkway to your front door. Be as creative or simple as you want with this idea. You can just write simple thank you messages or you can be more elaborate and add drawings of flowers, hearts, hands, etc. If you google “chalk the walk”, you will be able to easily find a lot of ideas to spark your creativity.

6. Give a Small Gift

Just like an award, pretty much everyone likes a gift. However, there are definitely some things to keep in mind with this option.

I have received many small “gifts” over the years and sadly some of them just went right in the trash. I hate admitting that, but it’s just true. Don’t give something that someone likely already has in their possession or something that was trendy 10 years ago. I have received way too many stress balls over the years.

More and more people these days are trying to be more minimalistic, so they don’t need another small gadget that just takes up more space in their home. My biggest suggestion here is to make it something consumable.

A gift card is an easy obvious choice, just be careful which store you choose. Make sure the store fits the recipient. Other ideas would be candles, nice hand lotions, freshly baked treats, a nice notepad, or wine, etc. Again, just make sure the gift fits the person, you certainly wouldn’t want to give freshly baked goods to someone on a strict diet or wine to someone who doesn’t drink.

7. Certify Your Organization to Give the President’s Volunteer Service Award

Becoming certified to award your volunteers for the President’s Volunteer Service Award is a straightforward process. Your organization must apply to become a certifying organization through the Presidential Service Award website. Here you can see if your organization is eligible to become certified. Once you apply it takes 15 days to see if your application is approved.

The hardest part about becoming certified is you have to maintain a data bank that tracks the required information on all volunteers. This includes certifiying that the volunteer is eligible (at least 5 years old and a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) and verifying that the service hours are eligible to be counted towards the different award levels.

Once your organization is certified, you will need to start tracking the volunteer service hours. Eligible service for the award must occur within a 12-month period. Keep in mind, it does not have to be based on a calendar year. So if your organization gets certified in June, you could start tracking your volunteer’s hours in July for the award.

8. Create “Thank You” Social Media Posts

person holding iphone showing social networks folder
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

Make sure you post to your social media accounts thanking your volunteers in some way. #NVW is the official hashtag for National Volunteer Week. Trust me volunteers LOVE to be thanked and appreciated!! Even just one post thank is a generic thank you is better than nothing. If you have the time and resources, consider highlighting a few volunteers that have made a significant impact over the past year. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great places to thank your volunteers.

I do think this idea is important for any organization to do on a regular basis. However, nothing beats something a little more personalized like a gift, a handwritten note or award to really show your appreciation for a particular volunteer.

9. Help Spread the Word About Volunteerism

There is always a need for more volunteers. The more people talk about volunteering and the benefits they receive from it, the more others will be inspired to hopefully take action and give it a try. Ask a friend or a family member to volunteer with you one day. Make sure no background checks are needed first! If you have been volunteering for an organization for awhile, you may have forgotten that they required a background check. I have run into many people that say they want to volunteer, they just need someone to give them the nudge to get started.

10. Lend a Hand

Last but certainly not least is to actually give back to another organization. Choose one day during Volunteer Appreciation Week or another day during the month of April. Then find another non-profit that supports the community in a cause you passionate about. There are so many community issues out there today and there are thousands of organizations that support the different causes. Below is a list of some common non-profit missions are in response to issues in one of the following areas. (There are many more too!)

  1. Food Insecurity
  2. Animals
  3. Environment
  4. Elderly
  5. Military
  6. Homeless
  7. Children
  8. Hospitals
  9. Diseases such as Cancer, Alzheimers, Diabetes, etc
  10. Social Justice

Find one that sparks your interest and find an organization today! There are so many non-profits our there, I guarantee there is one that will fit your interests.

This post is all about Volunteer Appreciation Week.

I hope you have come away with a few great ideas for Volunteer Appreciation Week. Helping your volunteers feel appreciated is a great way to increase the chances of them volunteering with your organization again.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

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