Volunteers make a huge difference, and they should be recognized for their efforts. Any volunteer will tell you that recognizing and expressing gratitude for their efforts goes a long way, as their hard work is vital in a volunteer program. Volunteering for a cause requires a person to give up their time, money, and resources, so showing appreciation for that effort is essential. A simple “thank you” and a smile can go a long way, but there are other ways to show appreciation too. No matter how it is done, volunteer recognition is an important part of any program. Here are a few strategies that can help create a healthy and supportive environment for volunteers.

Make sure your volunteer’s work is meaningful and enjoyable.

Ensure that your volunteers are both having meaningful and enjoyable experiences. Even though some tasks may not be exciting, they can still be pleasant. Taking the extra effort to listen to and understand what your volunteers plan to gain from their work will ensure that everyone, including the organization and the volunteers, benefits from the work. When a volunteer is placed in a job that is meaningful and enjoyable to them, they are likely to be more cautious, which helps reduce the risk of any potential safety hazards.

Host informal social events for your staff to meet volunteers.

Organizations can benefit from holding informal social events for their staff to meet volunteers. Who doesn’t love to have a good time? Hosting a potluck dinner or a volunteer picnic with the organization’s staff and CEO is a great way to give volunteers a glimpse into the organization’s culture. This will help to foster a greater appreciation for the volunteer work that is being done for the organization.

Give your volunteers project updates.

Provide your volunteers with regular project updates to show them how their effort has helped make a difference. This will help foster a sense of pride in their work. For example, share the number of dollars raised, the number of houses built, the amount of animals spayed & neutered, etc. This will help your volunteers see how their time and contributions are positively influencing the organization.

Provide adequate volunteer training and safety resources.

Prioritizing the safety of your volunteers is essential. Taking the time to create a comprehensive training and safety plan is a great way to show your appreciation. Rather than just leaving your volunteers to their own devices, it is important to make sure they are properly taught and guided in order to maintain a safe environment and avoid potential risks or injuries.

Say thank you.

Never underestimate the power of saying thank you. Showing appreciation for volunteers is crucial, and expressing it in person or in a thank you note can make a huge difference. After each shift, opportunity, or event, take the time to express your gratitude directly. Even if you can’t be there in person, you can still send a volunteer thank you note via email.