Let Volunteers Know You Appreciate Their Support

by Craig Bystrynski



How do you plan to say thanks to your volunteers this holiday season? We have two very simple no-cost suggestions that will make your volunteers happy and pay dividends for your group.

First of all, a word about volunteer appreciation. A lot of groups, if they think of volunteer appreciation at all, think of it as an end-of-year event when you celebrate the contributions of everyone who helped out during the year. You hold this great energizing event, but then everyone heads their separate ways for the summer. Why not focus on volunteer appreciation during the year, when you can reap the benefits of your positive gesture? 

In fact, volunteer appreciation works best as an ongoing effort rather than a single big event. Think of it as a regular series of small gestures that continually let people know that their contributions really matter. In that vein, here are our two suggestions for the holiday season.

First, for people who have volunteered this semester, send them a personal email simply saying thanks for their help and how much you appreciate their time and effort. You can split this task up among board members or committee chairs. Every email doesn’t have to be different, but they all need to be personalized. (No mass “thanks to everybody who helped out”—that doesn’t work.)

Second, reach out to people who haven’t helped out at all this semester. Specifically, go through your records and email everyone who signed up as a potential volunteer at back-to-school time or during the fall. Let them know that you appreciate their support of your parent group and their willingness to volunteer. Say that you look forward to working with them in the coming weeks and months. Then, be sure to act on contacting them for specific volunteer opportunities, whether now or in the next month or so. 

The point of contacting your volunteers is to spread a little holiday goodwill and, especially, to keep them thinking warmly about your group.
The point of contacting people who didn’t volunteer—but once expressed their willingness—is to reopen the window of opportunity by letting them know you still value what they can provide.

So take some time to reach out and spread a little appreciation. After all, ’tis the season.

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