As everyone prepares for an off-site event by making sure everything is packed and group members are ready to go, it can be hard to think about all the behind-the-scenes stuff going on that makes an event the amazing experience that it is. This is especially true for those hardworking, helpful, unpaid volunteers; the people who put in so much of their time to make sure that everyone is safe and having fun.
Remember that these people are doing this because they want to, not because they have to. That being said, the best way to keep them coming back is by ensuring they like the environment they are working in. Nothing spoils a job, or any form of work, like doing something you don’t like around people you don’t like.
So, how do you ensure that everyone enjoys their volunteer experience? Show them how much their work is appreciated. Since they aren’t being compensated with money, you must provide an alternative.
Here are a few thank you suggestions that are sure to make your volunteers eager to keep working:
• Group photo posted on the company website, blog, social media, or area newspaper with an article about the volunteers and program
• T-shirt that talks about their volunteer efforts (saying what they volunteered for or about how great volunteers are)
• Continually checking in and chatting with them. Make sure that they have enough/not too much to do. Get their feedback/suggestions, because they are generally right in the middle of everything that is going on. Checking in and just getting to know them shows them that they are an important part of your team, and not just some disposable worker.
• Volunteer appreciation dinner/lunch. Make a slideshow of all the volunteers working to be played during the meal. It should honor all volunteers, regardless of time dedicated.
• Hand-written thank you card. Personally writing it makes a much greater impact than a general email or letter.
• Simply tell them “Thank You”
The more personalized the thank you, the better they will feel about it. Also, although it may seem obvious, don’t put volunteers in charge of any volunteer appreciation efforts. You shouldn’t have to tell yourself for someone else that you are appreciated. Think about all the time and work that volunteers put in to make it all a success, because honestly, it couldn’t be done without them. Take a little time to appreciate those unsung heroes.
“Volunteers are not paid–not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” -Sherry Anderson