Question: Ideas for volunteer appreciation?

Do you have any great ideas for volunteer appreciation? We’re looking for something new.

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

The best appreciation ideas are often inexpensive and public, so that everyone in your school community sees how much you value great volunteers. With that in mind, here are a few inexpensive, public favorites.

Try reserving a parking spot (specially painted, of course) for the volunteer of the month. Adding a sign that other parents can see when they drive by is a nice touch.

Local papers love press releases with photos and details about exceptional volunteers. Send them monthly.

Set up an honor board in your school foyer dedicated to thanking volunteers. Important: Make sure you’re not just honoring “the regulars.” Don’t forget how important new or tentative volunteers are. Honor them frequently.

As you know, dedicated volunteers often sacrifice time at home to do school work. One of my favorite appreciation devices is a gift certificate—donated, of course—to a local restaurant for your volunteer of the month and spouse. Throw in some baby-sitting and you’ve got a real treat.

Also, keep in mind that it’s important to let volunteers know on an ongoing basis that they are appreciated. That means sending personal thank-you notes after events and telling people in person how their help makes a difference. You also express your appreciation in a nonverbal way by giving volunteers the information and tools they need to do their job, by being organized and ready for them as soon as they arrive, and by giving them meaningful tasks rather than always menial ones.

It’s OK to have a budget for volunteer appreciation and volunteer development. Those dollars will come back in a big way down the road in the form of more, happier volunteers and more involvement.

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