Ensuring volunteers feel valued

There are several ways volunteer managers can ensure volunteers feel valued throughout their volunteer experience.

Thank-you card

Volunteers make a huge impact on organizations, programs, other volunteers, staff and especially the youth with which they work. If it weren’t for the reach of volunteers, many organizations would suffer greatly. As volunteer managers, it is important to ensure volunteers know they are a valued part of the organization or program.   

Michigan State University Extension suggests volunteer managers consider the following ideas to ensure volunteers know they are valued and appreciated.

Say thank you. It’s a simple way to let volunteers know their efforts are recognized, not just in times where they have gone above and beyond, but also in everyday life. Saying thank you doesn’t have to be complicated or made into a long story. It can be as simple as sending an email, text or note in the mail that says, “Thanks for all that you do. I’m thinking of you and hoping you’re doing well.”

Communicate regularly. Keeping volunteers in a regular communication loop is important to helping them feel valued. When volunteers feel as though they don’t hear from you or the organization, they may start to have doubts if everything is OK. Sending communications to volunteers is a simple way to let them know they are recognized by you and the organization. It affirms the sense of belonging and assures them the organization is strong. Consider setting up a weekly, biweekly or monthly newsletter that goes out consistently as this will help volunteers know when to expect information. 

Send birthday or holiday cards. Get into the routine of sending cards to your volunteers; pick if you want to send them for their birthday or a holiday. If you prefer these cards to be spread out throughout the year, utilize their birthday as the touch point. Determine who’s birthday is in each month and get cards ready to send at the beginning of each month. If it is easier for you to send them all at once, send a holiday card. Make sure the card isn’t specific to a certain holiday but more focused on the season of the year in order to relate best to the different holidays your volunteers may celebrate. Take the time to handwrite these notes to make them more personal. 

Offer to help them at a meeting with program participants. Being able to interact with program participants often brings joy to volunteers. However, volunteers are not experts in everything program participants may want to learn. As a volunteer manager, you can share resources, activities or lesson plans that meet the needs of what program participants want to learn. Utilize the MSU Extension website for content and short lessons that you can share with volunteers.

Volunteers are incredibly valuable to organizations and it’s important they feel that value. These tips can help you show your volunteers how vital they are.

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