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20 Creative Ways to Thank Your Volunteers

volunteers thank you creative unique ideas yourWhen people volunteer, they do so knowing they are taking on tasks without tangible rewards. However, organizations that take the time to thank volunteers know that the return on that thanks is tenfold. Here are a few out-of-the-box ideas to give those all-important volunteers a little celebrity status.

Schools

With budget cuts around every corner, schools know the importance of keeping the ‘rents happy and thanking them for their time, energy and patience as they run countless fundraisers and otherwise support the school. When giving kudos to school volunteers, remember, it’s all about the kids.
1. Create a class scrapbook – Take a picture of every child in the class and mount the adorable smiling faces on paper decorated by the kids. Bind the pages in a three-ring folder and you have a kid-approved coffee-table book.
2. Sing it from the roof tops – Want to really make your volunteers swoon? Surprise them with a seemingly impromptu serenade. Your students' sweet voices may not make the cut for the next singing show, but we bet they'll melt hearts.
3. Thank you note – This oldie is still a goodie, so teach students the importance of writing thank you notes. Sure the teacher could write a nice note, but we bet parents will appreciate the scrawling penmanship of younger writers even more.
4. Art on display – Bestow upon your volunteers kid-crafted works of art. Nothing says thanks like a macaroni noodle project.
5. VIP parking – Give your parent volunteers the VIP treatment with front-row parking.

Non-profits

No one needs volunteers more than a non-profit! Volunteers of every type have their place; the key is to make everyone feel equally important while bestowing the greatest thanks on those the organization could not survive without.
1. Get published – Connect with a local magazine and give them the scoop on what’s new with your organization. Ask the reporter to shine a spotlight on your top volunteers.
2. Share results – Don’t let your volunteers’ efforts drift off into oblivion. Send regular updates to show them what their work is accomplishing.
3. What’s in a name – For super-stellar volunteers, consider naming something in their honor.
4. Newsletter – Whether you publish on paper or in the digital form, carve out some space to thank each volunteer by name. Soon everyone will want to see their name in your newsletter.  
5. Sweet Treats – Organize a bake-a-thon or meal prep amongst your staff to supply goodies for your volunteers.  

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Churches

Whether they lead the choir, watch over the little ones during service or pass out flyers, church volunteers deserve big thanks. A tight-knit community like a church is only as strong as its members, so sing your volunteers’ praises.
1. Signage – Hang a banner for all to see proclaiming the church’s thanks.
2. Breakfast – Host a thank you breakfast and feed those volunteers. Use SignUpGenius to easily plan and invite all your volunteers.
3. Handmade – Take advantage of your crafty members’ talents by asking them to make something special for your volunteers.
4. Give thanks – Want to really encourage others to help? Make an announcement during services thanking your volunteers and inviting them to stand and be recognized for their work.
5. Pin it – You know that blank wall down the hall from the rec room? Spruce it up with a bulletin board dedicated to displaying the photos of your most recent volunteers.

Youth Sports Leagues

The coaches, the refs, the snack moms – don’t they all deserve accolades for dedicating their patience to teaching kids coordination, how to be a team player, and good sportsmanship?
1. Team photo – Before those uniforms get muddied, gather the players for a group shot. 
2. Trophy – Whether the team won the championship or just one game, chip in to award the coach a “#1 Coach” trophy.
3. Gatorade dunk – After tirelessly coaching your kids to victory, does Coach really want to be doused in Gatorade? Instead, present him or her with a case of the sports drink as a gift.
4. Game Ball – Instead of presenting the game ball to a player, consider presenting it to a VIR (very important ref).
5. Advertise it – You know those ads your kid has to sell in the sports program? Instead of congratulating JR, thank the coach.

 

Jennifer Burg is a flip-flop wearing, Gator-loving, picture-taking, deal-hunting Florida gal. As an overachieving mom of two awesome daughters, making to-do lists helps her remain calm and (somewhat) organized.