So much personal value comes from helping others. Volunteer and come away feeling awesome. Thank your volunteers and make them feel valued - and the circle is complete.

So much personal value comes from helping others. Volunteer and come away feeling awesome. Thank your volunteers and make them feel valued – and the circle is complete.

Since National Volunteer Week is April 10-16 and the Greater Lansing Sports Authority is calling for volunteers for its big sports events…pretty much constantly, I thought it would be good to talk for a minute about the importance of the volunteer relationship and give some tips on how to make volunteers feel valued.

How do you show your volunteers how much you value their time? First think about why one decides to volunteer for something. I have been a volunteer for the Greater Lansing Sports Authority many times. The main reason for doing so is because I have passion for what the organization represents. Although passion is the driving factor for donating my time, second reason is knowing the GLSA’s events like March Magic Hoopfest rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers. No volunteers, no Hoopfest. It’s honestly that simple. The key to volunteer appreciation is that it should be done all year-round in order to keep your volunteer base engaged. A few ways to show your volunteers that you appreciate them throughout the year are listed below.

Build a Relationship

Take the time to build a relationship with each of your volunteers. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses as well as their motivation. This will not only help you when trying to assign them to different roles, events, etc., but it will also help promote a long term relationship. For example, if someone is not comfortable dealing with money or making change, it is best to not assign them to work the till. This could make them feel uncomfortable and nonproductive. It can even turn them off from volunteering in the future.

Ask for a Testimonial

Most volunteers would gladly provide you with a testimonial, which could make them feel more appreciated. Asking each volunteer to write a quote is a great way to keep them engaged. Both the volunteer and the staff can benefit from this. The volunteer gets to share their story and be reminded of the importance of their time. You on the other hand now have a story to share on your website and other promotional material as well as a great resource for volunteer recruitment. You can take this one step further and create a volunteer spotlight on your website or in newsletters.

Thank You Card or Recognition Award

A handwritten thank you card goes a long way. Make sure to personalize them based on the specific task they assisted with. In addition to the card, a small gift or recognition award will remind them of their achievements. If your budget doesn’t allot for volunteer gifts, an inexpensive way to give your volunteers something to take home is a personalized certificate. Awarding these to your volunteers, especially during a gathering or event, will become a very memorable experience for them.

Recognizing that volunteers play a vital role in the outcome of your event is important to keep them engaged, build their satisfaction for the cause and helps you recruit future volunteers. The best time to thank volunteers is before, during and after your event. When is a good time to bolster your organizational approach to organizing, assigning and thanking volunteers? How about National Volunteer Week – April 10-16, 2016.