The heart of any nonprofit organization is its volunteers, but it can be difficult to sufficiently recognize the generosity of these people. Certificates of appreciation can be nice, inexpensive gestures, but you may want to give back more than a certificate honoring your volunteers' contributions. There are some great inexpensive ways to recognize your volunteers.
Solicit local restaurants, venues and amusement places for free tickets, one per volunteer. You can give each volunteer a free dinner, a free companion plane ticket, a free concert ticket, or free admission to zoos, amusement parks or museums. List the donors of these awards on your website with a thank you, and allow them to state through their advertising that they support your charity. The positive public relations is almost always worth more than the value of the gift.
Annual Awards Dinners
Thank your volunteers by letting them see the good they have done. If you have a charity that directly serves people -- helping people find jobs, get off drugs or alcohol, buy a home or fight depression -- an annual awards dinner with slide shows and presentations by people you have helped can be a perfect way to thank volunteers for their hard work. Formal and informal dinners can be expensive, so find a sponsor for your dinner before planning it, and sell tickets to donors, employees and others who are not volunteers. With good planning, you can offset the whole cost of your awards dinner and still have a wonderful event that honors volunteers and gains you some publicity.
Logo gifts, such as umbrellas, tote bags, or pens, can be remarkably inexpensive and a meaningful way to thank volunteers and donors alike. To make logo gifts extra special, do not just put your logo on them; instead, create gifts that say something like, "I volunteer my time at __."
If you have a particularly great volunteer you would like to recognize, contact your local television or radio station to do a story about the person. Local news stations are often hungry for great human interest stories their viewers will enjoy, and you need to recognize your volunteers as well as get some attention for your organization. Make a good media contact if you do this, so that you have someone to approach in the future for stories and positive press.
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