During the past year, Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms have been used for everything from board meetings to holiday get-togethers. Some variations on a virtual thank-you event include:
Dinner party: Have everyone meet and eat “together,” maybe even with an adult beverage.
Dance it out: Virtual dance parties aren’t just for kids! Let everyone request a song beforehand, and encourage them to break out their moves.
Award ceremony: Lighten up the idea by recognizing volunteers in a humorous way—for example, “volunteer who spent the most time emailing the principal” or “volunteer who had the worst job at field day.”
Soon after schools initially closed last spring, the parent association and booster club at Glacier Hills School of Arts & Science in Eagan, Minn., decided to honor volunteers with a slideshow. “We asked teachers, staff, and families to submit pictures and videos and made it into a slideshow with embedded iMovie clips for any video,” says volunteer coordinator Talia Bailey Campbell. “We sent it out on our school listserv as well as a link to the iMovie on our Facebook page. It went great, and is something we will do each year.”
At the end of the 2019-20 school year, Chelsea McQuaid, PTO president at Elk Valley Elementary in Lake City, Pa., erred on the side of saving money during the pandemic uncertainty and “kept it simple and just did my yearly thank-you notes.” Actually, a heartfelt thank-you works anytime—even a quick and sincere “Thank you so much for everything. I couldn’t have done it without you” text message or email to volunteers will help them feel appreciated.
Social Media Shout-outs
A little recognition always gives a boost. You can post shout-outs of volunteers in action or ask for “volunteer of the week” nominees.
Everyone loves a night off from cooking. Provide volunteers with some choices your group can afford (pizza, pasta, subs), and arrange to have meals dropped off at volunteers’ homes.
The Rocky River Elementary PTO in Concord, N.C., made thank-you breakfast bags for teachers. Adapt this idea for your volunteers by packing up and delivering treats (breakfast, snacks, or something else) along with a thoughtful note.
When you order personalized coffee mugs or stemless wine glasses in a large quantity online, you can get them for around $2 or even less per unit. If someone in your group has a die-cut machine, create your own vinyl transfers and apply them to plain cups at even lower cost.
Easy Gifts With Matching Tags
Put together some inexpensive, simple-to-create gifts that you can drop off or have volunteers pick up at a designated spot. (These ideas are adapted from our Volunteer Appreciation Guide. Get the gift tags below, along with lots of other ideas you can adapt, at PTOtoday.com/volunteer-appreciation-ideas.)
Soothing treats: Fill a self-care goody bag with items for pampering (bath bomb, chocolate, coffee) and attach a tag that says “Thanks for your help! Now it’s time to relax.”
Happy feet: Everyone loves fuzzy socks! Include some foot lotion and finish with “You knock our socks off!” on a gift tag.
Coffee, tea, and treats: Assemble a small bag of coffee, a few tea bags, and some packaged treats along with a tag that says “Thanks a latte for all you do!”