12 Creative Ideas to Appreciate Volunteers

Find 12 creative ideas to appreciate your volunteers, with pros, cons and requirements!

12 Creative Ideas to Appreciate Volunteers

December is on the horizon. With the National Day of the Volunteer and Christmas coming up, it is a time to express gratitude and recognise the invaluable contributions of volunteers. Here are 12 creative ideas to appreciate and celebrate the dedication of volunteers. We provide the ideas, pros, cons, requirements and tools to help you realise these ideas. Have fun!

1. Personalised Volunteer Certificates

Create custom certificates to acknowledge each volunteer's unique contributions, adding a personal touch to their recognition

  • Pros: Personalised recognition enhances the emotional impact.
  • Cons: Time-consuming for large volunteer bases.
  • Requirements: 
    • Design software: Canva is free and easy to use!
    • Printer.
    • Volunteer data: with a Deedmob platform, you can easily extract data on volunteers, organisations, applications and activities on any given moment.

2. Virtual Volunteer Awards Ceremony

Host a virtual awards ceremony to recognise outstanding volunteers, fostering a celebratory atmosphere even in remote settings.

  • Pros: Inclusive for remote volunteers.
  • Cons: Potential technical challenges for some participants.
  • Requirements: 
    • Video conferencing platform: use Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, or Session. Note that some of these have a 40 minute time limit or incurred costs. Deedmob uses Google Meet or Session.
    • Awards design: you can use Canva for free, ask your volunteers to come up with a design, or use a standard template

3. Social Media Volunteer Spotlight

Feature volunteers on social media platforms throughout the day, sharing their stories and showcasing their impact.

  • Pros: Broad visibility for volunteers and your organisation.
  • Cons: Requires permission from volunteers for public recognition.
  • Requirements: 
    • Active social media accounts: see next bullet point.
    • Volunteer stories: we wrote an article on effective storytelling. This helps with collecting and publishing stories, and keeping your social media accounts active.

4. Thank-You Video Compilation

Compile video messages from staff, beneficiaries, and fellow volunteers expressing gratitude and showcasing the diversity of voices in your community.

  • Pros: Emotional impact and a sense of community.
  • Cons: Time-intensive for production.
  • Requirements: 
    • Video editing software: we love iMovie (Apple) or VideoPad as free movie editing software.
    • Video editors: consider asking your volunteers to help you on your volunteer platform.
    • Contributions from stakeholders: ask your team, close organisations, and volunteers to prepare a short thank you video. If you want to make it extra special, consider asking the alderman or a (lokale) celebrity.

5. Personal Thank-You Calls

Allocate time for staff to make personal calls expressing appreciation to each volunteer, creating a direct and personal connection.

  • Pros: Direct and intimate appreciation.
  • Cons: Time-consuming for large volunteer bases.
  • Requirements: 
    • Volunteer contact details: with a Deedmob platform, you can easily extract data on volunteers, organisations, applications and activities on any given moment.
    • Telephone: ask everyone to use their mobile phone, and optionally compensate their usage.

6. Volunteer Appreciation Brunch/Event

Organise a virtual or in-person brunch to celebrate volunteers, incorporating games and entertainment for a joyous occasion.

  • Pros: Interactive celebration fostering a sense of community.
  • Cons: Coordination challenges for in-person events.
  • Requirements: 
    • Catering or virtual platform: see next bullet point.
    • Event planning: we wrote a blog to help you craft memorable events as a voluntary organisation. Check it out here.

7. Digital Thank-You Cards

Create and send digital thank-you cards to volunteers, offering a tangible yet digital expression of gratitude.

  • Pros: Environmentally friendly and easily shareable.
  • Cons: Less tangible than physical cards.
  • Requirements: 
    • Graphic design software: we recommend using Canva (free) or eCardwidget (paid).
    • Email platform: you probably have your own email platform, but if you haven’t, you can always check out Mailchimp. Bonus: Deedmob platforms can autofill your Mailchimp mailing list!

8. Volunteer Appreciation Wall

Build a (virtual) wall (on your website) where volunteers' names and achievements are prominently displayed, providing persistent recognition.

  • Pros: Continuous acknowledgment.
  • Cons: Requires regular updates.
  • Requirements: 
    • A physical wall: select a wall in your premises that is well in sight
    • Website access: with a Deedmob platform, you can easily create a digital volunteer appreciation wall. Check out our partner GoVolHerts for an example.
    • Design: use Canva, or just make your own pictures after volunteers come visit.

9. Volunteer Appreciation Kit Delivery

Send appreciation kits containing personalised items, thank-you notes, and small gifts to volunteers' homes, providing tangible tokens of appreciation.

  • Pros: Tangible appreciation.
  • Cons: Logistics for widespread distribution.
  • Requirements: 
    • Kit assembly: consider creating and distributing your own merchandise, and a nice thank-you note. This gives more visibility to your organisation as well, win-win! 
    • Delivery coordination: make it a cool team activity to visit your volunteers and deliver their appreciation kits. 

10. Memory Lane Photo Collage

Create a digital or physical collage featuring memorable moments from volunteers' contributions, offering a nostalgic appreciation.

  • Pros: Nostalgic and visually impactful.
  • Cons: Time-intensive for collection.
  • Requirements: 
    • Photo submissions: take your own photos during events, or ask volunteers to submit photos in your newsletter.
    • Collage creation: use Canva for some nice collage templates.

11. Volunteer Appreciation Quizzes

Develop fun and interactive quizzes related to volunteering, with prizes for participants, offering an engaging and educational activity.

  • Pros: Engaging activity promoting learning.
  • Cons: Requires quiz creation and coordination.
  • Requirements: 
    • Quiz platform: consider using Kahoot (free), Outgrow, or Typeform (paid)
    • Prizes: ask local shops or companies to provide some gifts, or allocate some resources to provide these gifts or coupons.

12. Recognition through Local Media

Collaborate with local newspapers or radio stations to feature stories about the impactful contributions of volunteers in your community.

  • Pros: Broad recognition through local media.
  • Cons: Dependent on media cooperation.
  • Requirements: 
    • Media contacts: newspapers usually love to give the spotlight to volunteering initiatives. Don’t hesitate to ask for their help!
    • Storytelling: we wrote an article on effective storytelling that will definitely help!

For our Dutch friends, we have a great example of our partner Lochem Doet. In this short interview, Joy explains how the local media are vital to their volunteer appreciation programme.

Expressing appreciation for volunteers goes beyond words; it's about creating memorable experiences that reflect the value of their contributions. Choose the ideas that resonate most with your community and make this December a month to remember!

Some highlights of 5 years at Deedmob

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Gerbrand Holland

Growth Manager

Gerbrand Holland is Growth Manager at Deedmob