Awards presentation

Volunteer recognition and celebration

It is vital to thank, appreciate and celebrate your volunteers and the impact that they make! Page 1 has ideas and suggestions to inspire you, especially when you have limited time and resources.  Page 2 has examples of loyalty card schemes from GOGA partners.  On page 3 you can find out about the GOGA Volunteer Stories campaign and download further useful resources.

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Thanking your volunteers and celebrating their achievements

Thanking volunteers and recognising their achievements is very important for retaining volunteers, there are many ways you can do this and it is the small and personal things that often matter the most. Here you will find a list of top tips for how to thank your volunteers:

1. Celebrate your volunteers all year round
Make sure you value and recognise your volunteers throughout the year.

2. Make it personal
Social media is a great, public way to thank and celebrate your volunteers but unless they are checking your social media accounts, how will they ever know how grateful you are? In addition to publicly showing your appreciation through social media, go beyond the normal thank you tweet and recognise your volunteers more directly too.

3. Understand your volunteers
Each volunteer is donating their time for a different motivation. Understanding these motivations is very important in being able to show your thanks in a way they will appreciate. For example, a student volunteer might appreciate training opportunities more than a retired volunteer.

4. Say thank you
This is the easiest and probably most effective way to recognise your volunteers. And it’s free! Say thanks to your volunteers often and be sincere and specific when you do it. You can say thanks informally – in person, on the telephone, email or card and/or formally at special events. Make sure everyone understands why you have volunteers and why they are so vital to your organisation.

5. Show them they are part of the team
Volunteers are an integral part of any organisation, not an add-on service. Making them feel like part of the team is incredibly important and you can ensure this very simply by giving them a uniform, a volunteer badge or t-shirt. Good communication is equally important: involving volunteers in newsletters or staff emails, or simply providing volunteers a platform to share their experiences and find out information is a simple way to involve a volunteer.

6. Award Certificates
Certificates are a great way to recognise and physically qualify a volunteer’s contribution. You could also give them branded merchandise such as a badge or a canvas bag. Having something tangible for the hours put in can often make all the difference to a volunteer and act as not only an incentive, but a source of pride.

7. Social Events
Many volunteers’ are motivated to get involved to meet new people – something we have found especially with disabled people and those who are retired. Organising a volunteer social activity is a great way to bring all your volunteers together, and regular interaction with your volunteers helps to keep them inspired and motivated.

8. Training
Properly training volunteers, and offering training throughout, shows that you value them and want to invest in them. We have found this is especially interesting for volunteers motivated to improve their skills and employability, or those applying for higher education/employment. Plus, training your volunteers is a win-win situation!

9. Volunteer awards
Show your appreciation and nominate volunteers for awards. Or, you could put on your own internal awards! Remember to always be fair and make sure that all volunteers are supported, valued and recognised.

10. Volunteers are ambassadors!
Remember that a happy volunteer is a great ambassador for your project and organisation. If you haven’t done so already – thank your volunteers today!

List of ideas of things to do with limited time and resources

Top Tip – Taking time to recognise and value your volunteers is important and it doesn’t have to cost you anything or take up much of your time.

Here is a list of some things you can do with limited time and resources.

  • Say thank you after the session or completion of volunteer hours, and tell them what they did well that day.
  • Offer to give a reference when they apply for a job.
  • Be organised and have tasks and responsibilities ready for the volunteer when they arrive.
  • Send out a thank you card.
  • Nominate your volunteer for an award.
  • Organise a social event eg. movie night, outdoor activity.
  • Exit interview – your volunteer will leave eventually, take time to have a chat with them to get their feedback did they feel supported and recognised?
  • Pay expenses quickly
  • For Get Out Get Active Volunteers, join the #VolunteerStory campaign and celebrate your volunteers.
  • Thank your volunteer on a day of significance for your organisation or charity when you are already doing something, Volunteer’s Week (1-7 June) and International Volunteer Day (5 December) are also good occasions to celebrate volunteers.
  • Celebrate volunteer of the month or at regular points during the year


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