Boost Your Business with eCards

Create customizable eCards to impress your audience! Choose a design, add your logo and message, and let your audience share them with their friends.

Spread Love and Raise Funds with eCards

Show your supporters how much you appreciate them with our heartfelt eCards. Our platform allows you to collect donations directly through the eCard, making fundraising easy and effective.

Celebrate Your Employees with eCards

Empower peer-to-peer recognition with customizable eCards that enable employees to appreciate and recognize each other’s hard work. Foster a culture of appreciation.

Thank Your Donors with eCards

Recognize and thank your donors with heartfelt eCards that also streamline the giving process by collecting donations directly through the eCard. Show your gratitude and make a meaningful impact with our convenient solution.

Other Popular Use-Cases :   Customer AcquisitionEvent InvitationsCelebrate HolidaysRecognition eCardsGreeting Card SoftwareCelebrate Team-Member Anniversaries And more

Volunteers are the secret weapon of every nonprofit, making up one-third of the nonprofit workforce. Their support helps you meet your fundraising goals, fulfill your mission, and keep your nonprofit running. 

That’s why expressing gratitude for volunteers should be a priority. In this guide, we’ll break down why volunteer appreciation matters and provide some ideas for how your nonprofit can say thank you.

Click through to learn more about using eCard software to boost your volunteer retention results.
Volunteer Appreciation: The Ultimate Guide +20 Ideas 7

Why Volunteer Appreciation Matters

With everything your volunteers do, it can be difficult to put an exact price tag on their hard work. However, studies have estimated that the average value of volunteers is over $30 per hour. And volunteers give their time and energy to provide this value without the expectation of monetary compensation.

Although volunteers don’t expect a monetary reward for their time, showing your appreciation can translate into tangible organizational benefits, such as:

  • Motivation and retention: Volunteers who feel appreciated for their efforts are also more likely to be motivated and do their best work. Plus, volunteers will stick with a nonprofit that takes care to express its gratitude. 
  • Community building: When all volunteers feel appreciated, it creates a sense of community bonding. In turn, this will facilitate a positive work environment that enables volunteers to deepen their relationships with each other and with your organization. 
  • Positive brand reputation: Nonprofits that actively express gratitude for their entire team, including their volunteers, establish a positive brand identity that will make them more attractive to prospective volunteers, donors, and partners. 
  • Time and cost efficiency: Sourcing and training new volunteers can take a lot of time and effort since you’ll need to recruit, pay for background checks, conduct orientation, and more. Incentivize existing volunteers to stick with your nonprofit by showing your appreciation for their contributions.

The longer a volunteer stays with your nonprofit, the more experienced they’ll be, meaning they’ll be an even bigger asset to your organization. These long-term volunteers have expertise in your mission, can train other volunteers, and can be relied upon to fill holes in your schedule. To build these lasting relationships, you’ll need a solid retention strategy, and the backbone of these strategies is appreciation.

Personalized Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

1. eCards

eCards are a memorable, fun, and easy way to show appreciation for volunteers. Though snail mail has its charms, eCards allow you to show your appreciation to volunteers quickly and expand your volunteer recognition efforts creatively.

eCards are electronic greeting cards that feature a memorable design and can be filled out with a personalized message. Depending on your nonprofit’s eCard platform, you can send eCards via email, text message, or social media.

Several volunteer appreciation eCards are displayed.

When putting together your eCard appreciation system, take a cue from the business world and use eCards to build a peer-to-peer recognition strategy. Let’s take a look at how to use eCards in a top-down vs peer-to-peer appreciation approach:

  • Top-down means leadership shows appreciation to volunteers. For example, when your volunteer manager sees volunteers going above and beyond, they would send those specific individuals eCards to celebrate their efforts. The benefit of a top-down approach is that appreciation feels meaningful and important. 
  • Peer-to-peer involves individuals who are equal or relatively equal in position—i.e. not leadership or direct supervisors—showing appreciation for one another. This would take the form of various staff members and volunteers sending appreciation messages to each other. The benefit of a peer-to-peer approach is that more volunteers get recognized, building a culture of appreciation. 

For an example of a nonprofit using a peer-to-peer approach to volunteer recognition with eCards, check out the Girl Scouts:

Several eCards from the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts organization relies heavily on volunteer support for leading troops across the country. With so many volunteers, it’s impractical for official leadership to adequately recognize all of their volunteers doing meaningful work. 

By using eCards to implement a peer-to-peer appreciation strategy, the Girl Scouts empower troop leaders and volunteers to recognize one another, bringing troops closer together. Plus, the actual Girl Scouts in each troop can get in on the action and send eCards to the volunteers they bonded with during their time as a scout. 

Create an environment where volunteers are excited to work with eCards. Learn more.

2. Thank You Letters

Want to know a secret? Thank-you letters will never go out of style. That’s because these letters are easily personalizable, and when they come from your nonprofit’s leaders, they indicate sincere appreciation.

These don’t have to be lengthy either! You can create a base template appreciation message and personalize it to each volunteer by:

  • Addressing each volunteer by name 
  • Mentioning specific contributions the volunteer made
  • Adding a handwritten signature to each letter

Gather members of leadership, such as your executive director, chief financial officer, volunteer supervisor, and board members together to spend some time signing volunteer letters to add that elevated touch.

3. Milestone Moments

Use your constituent relationship management system (CRM) to record volunteer information like engagement history, birthdays, and interests. That way, you can track milestone moments in your volunteers’ lives and use those opportunities to celebrate them. You can do this in a number of ways, such as by:

  • Sending eCards
  • Throwing parties
  • Giving public shout-outs

Birthdays, volunteer anniversaries, and recently completed volunteer projects are all great times to say “You’re awesome and we are so thankful to have you on our volunteer team.”

4. Phone Calls

Appreciation means more if your nonprofit has an established relationship with the volunteer being recognized. You can strengthen your bond with volunteers by expressing your appreciation in a one-on-one conversation via phone call. 

These conversations can be short but should be personable. Ask them how their kids or pets are, what their favorite hobbies are, and if they saw the big game. Create a script to ensure you hit major points in these conversations, such as emphasizing the volunteers’ hard work. However, remember volunteers are people too, so they won’t expect perfectly curated conversations. 

5. Video Messages

Rather than sending a letter, create and share videos thanking volunteers for their hard work. These videos can be recorded by a member of leadership, such as your volunteer manager, or by beneficiaries who want to express their thanks personally. 

These videos can be short, 15-45 seconds in length, and should follow a script to make sure they stay on target and feel professional. Ensure you have a quiet space where you can record and get good audio quality. Then, record multiple videos back-to-back to knock them out all at once. 

6. Online Shout-Outs

Recognize your volunteers publicly with online shout-outs. These can take many forms, such as:

  • Social media posts
  • A blog post on your website
  • A feature on your newsletter
An example social media thanking volunteers for their work at hypothetical nonprofit, Cat Rescue Club.

Pick your format based on the audience you want to celebrate your volunteers with. For instance, volunteers can easily share social media posts with friends and family outside of your nonprofit’s community while a spotlight in your newsletter is more for your audience of supporters.

Additionally, ask volunteers for their permission before publicly recognizing them. Some may appreciate the limelight while others prefer to be appreciated through more private means. 

7. Recognition Awards

Your volunteers don’t expect trophies and medals for the hard work they do, but chances are they would be delighted to receive them. Create various recognition awards to give to volunteers at your nonprofit, such as:

  • All-Star Mentor
  • Most Hours Volunteered 
  • Standout Leader
  • Team Player 
  • Most Reliable 

When recognizing volunteers, consider making trophies, medals, certificates, or some other physical award you can hand out to recipients. That way they’ll have something to bring home that symbolizes their hard work and connection to your nonprofit. 

Volunteer Appreciation Gift Ideas

8. Goodie Bags

Rather than one large gift, consider giving volunteers many small gifts bundled in a goodie bag. This increases the chances volunteers will receive a gift they like, lowers spending on appreciation efforts, and gives your nonprofit a handy way to welcome new volunteers to your organization at their first volunteer experience. 

You can fill your volunteer appreciation goodie bag with items like:

This image depicts items you can place in your volunteer appreciation goodie bag.
  • Candy and snacks
  • Keychains, stickers, and other small branded merchandise
  • Thank you note
  • Branded nonprofit merchandise
  • Events calendar
  • Nonprofit impact fact sheet
  • Newsletter information

You can also add informational items, like a fact sheet about your nonprofit’s impact or a calendar of upcoming events. This approach allows you to thank volunteers and invite them to participate in your nonprofit in other ways all at once.

9. Branded Merchandise

Show your appreciation by giving volunteers presents that will remind them of your nonprofit like branded merchandise. Branded merchandise can come in all sorts of forms depending on your nonprofit and what merchandise vendors you use. For instance, you could offer:

  • T-shirts
  • Hats
  • Mugs
  • Water bottles 
  • Tote bags
  • Frisbees 
  • Stickers
  • Fridge magnets 
  • Christmas ornaments 
  • And more!

Create specially designed gifts for volunteers or see if you have any merchandise left in stock that you don’t mind giving away. If you do plan to gift volunteers extra leftover items, double-check to make sure apparel comes in the right sizes for volunteers and that there are enough items for everyone. 

10. Books

Nonprofits that have bookish volunteers, like libraries or schools, can gift books to cultivate their volunteer community. These books can be about topics relevant to your nonprofit or just books you think your volunteers will find interesting. You may even encourage volunteers to connect by starting a book club. 

11. Gift Baskets

A step up from goodie bags, gift baskets are an optimal choice for volunteers who have been with your nonprofit long-term. 

Create gift baskets to give out to top volunteers or, for volunteers you’ve established a relationship with, offer customized gift baskets that suit their unique interests. For instance, you might have a volunteer who likes to cook or garden in their free time. Think about offering them a basket of recipes, utensils, cookbooks, and ingredients as a thank you. Or, send them seeds and gardening tools for their vegetable garden.

If you plan to include classic gift basket food items like fruit, nuts, and chocolate, make sure to check in with volunteers about allergies or food restrictions first. 

12. Flowers

Flowers are a classic gift that your nonprofit can send to any volunteer. You can gift them alone after a big event or pair them with your customized thank-you note, book set, gift basket, or other gifts.

Flowers can also be used to celebrate birthdays, volunteer anniversaries, and holidays and be used as a method for saying “We’re thinking of you” whenever volunteers are experiencing tough times in their lives. If you’re ever not sure what gift to send, flowers usually make a great choice. 

13. Gift Cards 

Sometimes the best volunteer appreciation gift is one volunteers can pick out themselves. Purchase gift cards for businesses that are popular with your supporters. For example, if you have a team of coffee lovers, you might get Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards. Or if you’re not sure about your volunteers’ interests, businesses like Amazon that sell just about everything are a good choice. 

14. Tickets

Another highly customizable appreciation idea, tickets are a memorable appreciation gift that send your volunteers on a night out. Look for upcoming community events like festivals or concerts that align with your volunteers’ interests. 

You can also pair tickets with other appreciation methods. For instance, provide tickets to a concert and a gift card for a nearby restaurant, or plan for upcoming sporting events by crafting a gift basket of their favorite team’s swag. 

Volunteer Appreciation Event Ideas

15. Luncheon or Dinner

Host a casual luncheon, a formal dinner, or anything in between to celebrate your volunteers. Plan to take your volunteers out for a meal after a big event or opt for a seasonal theme like a Friendsgiving to invite volunteers and their entire families to get together.

Select a restaurant and invite volunteers to RSVP in advance to secure their spot or ensure you order enough food for delivery if you plan to make your lunch into a picnic or in-office get-together. For a more formal flair, encourage your nonprofit leader to make a toast thanking volunteers for their dedication.

16. Virtual Happy Hour

It can be difficult to host events if your volunteers are virtual, but you can still share the joy of a meal with meal kits. Mail a happy hour kit to tight-knit volunteers you’ve retained over the years. Stock the box with gourmet goodies like wine and cheese pairings or chocolate desserts. Ask volunteers to RSVP and send them a kit before your virtual event where everyone can enjoy their packages together.

Plan out your virtual happy hour with exciting, team-building games everyone will enjoy. You can go for a virtual murder mystery, trivia game, book club, or just open chat rooms for socializing depending on your volunteers’ interests. If you’re not sure where to start, research online games for teams and send out a poll to see what sort of activities your volunteers are interested in. 

17. Wrap-Up Parties

Your volunteers work hard to make your events and campaigns a success. At the end of a major fundraiser, plan a wrap-up party for volunteers to unwind and reflect on everything they’ve accomplished. These can take place immediately after an event or campaign or be scheduled for a few days later to give volunteers a chance to relax first. 

For instance, you might plan a wrap-up party immediately after a formal gala so volunteers who worked the event get a chance to enjoy the venue before clearing out. For a peer-to-peer campaign, you might end off the fundraiser with a special event that both concludes your campaign and exists to celebrate all the work volunteers did leading up to it. 

18. Movie Watch Parties

If you’re on a budget, movie watch parties are a cheap and easy volunteer appreciation event to host for both in-person and virtual gatherings. Let volunteers vote on movies from a curated selection, ensure you procure a projector or decent streaming software depending on whether your event is in-person or online, and hit play. 

Elevate this event with simple catering. Order pizza or pop some bags of popcorn to hand out before starting your movie.

Volunteer Appreciation Ideas for Professional Growth

19. New Opportunities

While some volunteers who have been with your nonprofit for a long time may be comfortable in their roles, others might be looking for something new. Ensure volunteers who want to explore new opportunities can do so by expanding their roles. Talk with your volunteers about their skills, interests, and roles at your nonprofit to present them with the right opportunities for growth. 

In some cases, this might involve giving volunteers more senior positions at your organization. For example, a volunteer who has helped check in and manage guests at an event might be interested in taking a more active role during the planning process next time. In other cases, they may want to try out new skills entirely, such as lending their previously unused artistic skills to help create marketing materials.

20. Training and Workshops

Show your thanks by inviting volunteers to join a workshop or training session to learn more about the nonprofit industry and how your organization operates. For instance, if your nonprofit CFO gives many speeches to raise support and awareness for your cause, organize a public speaking workshop led by them for your volunteers.

While there, volunteers can pick up marketable skills they can add to their resumes or use as a resource to practice their interviewing skills. When choosing workshops, consider what your nonprofit staff members can teach, what skills your volunteers have an interest in, and what types of training would make for a compelling workshop. 

21. LinkedIn Endorsements

Some of your volunteers are likely working professionals who care about maintaining valuable connections to progress their careers. Thank them by endorsing them on LinkedIn to increase their credibility and legitimacy.

You can even offer to serve as a reference for volunteers who are new to the job market. As younger volunteers may need professional backing in their job hunt, your voice may be a deciding factor in whether or not they get their first position. 

Additional Volunteer Appreciation Resources

When your nonprofit shows appreciation to volunteers, they’re more likely to develop a lasting connection with your organization and continue donating their time for years to come. Talk with your volunteers to learn how they most want to be appreciated and start planning your recognition strategy. 

For more tips on how to thank the volunteers and donors who make your nonprofit’s mission possible, explore these resources: 

Click through to learn how eCardWidget software can improve your volunteer retention strategy.
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