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Planning a Nonprofit Volunteer Appreciation Event: 4 Tips

Planning a Nonprofit Volunteer Appreciation Event
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Your volunteers are the backbone of your nonprofit — they’re always there to help you power your mission. So how can you express gratitude for their passion and commitment? By planning an appreciation event in their honor!

While an appreciation event is a great way to show volunteer gratitude, planning the event has its challenges. Between preparing engaging event activities, managing an RSVP list, and creating a celebration that genuinely uplifts your volunteers, there’s a lot you need to do. But with the right team and enough preparation time, you can pull off your best volunteer appreciation event yet. When planning your volunteer appreciation event, you should:

And if your volunteer event goes well, consider making appreciation events a recurring part of your event calendar. Regular volunteer appreciation events can improve retention rates, connect them to your cause more deeply, and ensure volunteers stay involved with your mission.

Volunteer appreciation events also have the added benefit of raising awareness about your nonprofit. Not only will your volunteers feel valued, but you’ll also show the rest of your community the hard work they do to forward your mission. Let’s get started!

Assemble a team.

Planning a great event requires a great team. With more hands on deck, you can put effort into the details to make your appreciation event memorable.

What roles should each of your team members play? That’s easy — look to recruit:

  • Event chair: This person (who could be you!) oversees the entire event. They will steer your event and marketing strategy and offer the main creative ideas for the planning process. The event manager will keep everyone on track to be sure everything is ready before the event.
  • Communication leader: The communication leader guarantees that your volunteers learn about and attend the event. They will create a marketing strategy and lead outreach efforts to connect with volunteers.
  • Budget manager: The budget manager will ensure your team is within the funds allocated to the appreciation event. They can also help determine cost-effective options for decorations, gifts, and other expenses that still feel special to your volunteers.
  • Head of logistics: Especially if your event is happening virtually, you’ll need someone to manage scheduling and logistics. That’s where your head of logistics comes in. They can help the event run smoothly while honoring every volunteer.

Ideally, your team of planners should have some connection with your volunteers. Part of what has kept your volunteers engaged is their relationship with your staff. Tapping into those connections in the planning process can make it more meaningful. Be sure to invite your volunteer coordinators to the appreciation event too.

Emphasize volunteer impact.

When you’re planning a fundraising event, you show your donors the impact their contributions create, helping them feel their donation made a difference.

Use the same approach for your volunteer appreciation event. Show and tell volunteers how their commitment and time make a difference. This helps volunteers feel appreciated and that their hard work was worth it. Measuring each volunteer’s impact makes every volunteer feel valued at your event, including:

  • Encourage your nonprofit’s Director or Board President to speak: Your nonprofit’s leaders can be powerful and effective communicators of your mission. Have them speak and thank your volunteers. Ask them to highlight your work in the past year and how volunteers contributed to your mission’s success.
  • Be specific: When highlighting your volunteers’ accomplishments, be specific. Share exact numbers or tangible goals that your volunteers helped your nonprofit achieve. Go the extra mile, and give highly dedicated volunteers special recognition.
  • Invite beneficiaries to the event: If your nonprofit frequently works with a specific group of people, such as children or older people, invite them to your volunteer appreciation event. Your constituents can express their gratitude to your volunteers directly, and their presence will be significant.

Whatever you do, put impact at the center of your volunteer appreciation event. It’s the best way to showcase your volunteers’ work and make them feel essential to your mission.

Publicly recognize your volunteers.

Public recognition is among the best ways to make volunteers feel valued and important to your organization. Use the appreciation event to your advantage by recognizing attendees and sharing the event with your other supporters.

Here’s how you can recognize your volunteers before, during, and after your appreciation event:

  • Live-stream the appreciation event: To share your volunteer appreciation event experience with your supporters, live-stream your event on your website and social media platforms. This way, everyone can see what you’re doing to recognize your valuable volunteers.
  • Spotlight volunteers on social media: Before or after the event, you can spotlight your volunteers on social media accounts. Post a picture of the honored volunteer, share highlights of their service, and some information about them.
  • Share photos from the event: Share photos across your platforms after your event ends. Send pictures to your volunteers with a thank you note showing your gratitude for their attendance and hope they will continue working with your organization.

Giving your volunteers public recognition makes them feel like an integral part of the community. They can also share their accomplishments with friends and family more easily. And who knows — you might even inspire more people to volunteer!

Get creative with your appreciation gifts.

Although your volunteers don’t work with your organization for free perks, providing a token of appreciation can deepen their connections with your organization. And what better way to end your volunteer appreciation event than to surprise everyone with a gift?

But offering  unique volunteer appreciation gifts can be tricky, especially if you have a limited budget. Consider these creative appreciation gifts:

  • Branded tote bag: Your volunteers are already passionate about your organization, so why not give them a branded tote bag to represent your nonprofit wherever they go? A branded tote bag lasts longer than a t-shirt or potted plant and can be useful for many activities. Plus, for environmentally conscious nonprofits, a reusable bag even aligns with your mission!
  • Physical display: A physical display in your facilities might be ideal for volunteer fundraisers who have significantly contributed to your nonprofit through peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns or other initiatives. or other initiatives. Even if the display is temporary, such as a colorful poster, it can still be impactful for your volunteers.
  • Thank you video: Film everyone on your team thanking your volunteers for their hard work. Not only is a video personal, but volunteers can keep it for years to come and share it with friends and family.

However you decide to thank your volunteers, make your gift meaningful. A personal touch can help volunteers feel integral to your nonprofit. Even a handwritten thank you note specifying how each volunteer has made a difference will make each person feel appreciated. In short, it doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it comes from the heart!

Volunteer appreciation is essential to retain these dedicated supporters. By hosting a volunteer appreciation event, you’ll demonstrate your gratitude for their hard work while showing off the vast difference that they’ve made. Be sure to thank each volunteer individually during the event — connecting with everyone one-on-one can help forge stronger relationships. Good luck!

Bloomerang Volunteer makes it easy to grow your volunteer base, simplify tasks and save time in the process.

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