Charitable and nonprofit organizations know all too well the importance of a good volunteer. Because they’re so vital to continuity and success, it’s important to show volunteers how valued and appreciated they are. Initial enthusiasm can only take you so far, but after that it’s about commitment to shared goals and the feeling of belonging to a community that can keep volunteers motivated. We’ve assembled a list of volunteers with some recommended appreciation gift ideas, to help you give your volunteers the recognition that they deserve.
Volunteer Thank You Gift Ideas
The Citizen Scientist/Environmental Conservation Volunteer
The idea of helping with environmental conservation or wildlife protection efforts attracts many people who love the natural world. There are those of use who grow up loving adorable baby pandas and beautiful whales who are driven to get involved in animal protection and conservation of species. Some of us may be more analytical want to help collect data for museums, studies, or to help in scientific discoveries. Perhaps their motivation is a love for our planet, and a desire to see it last for future generations.
Whatever moves them to get involved, their efforts are important and appreciated, and a little bit of recognition can help keep them involved - often throughout their lives.
Looking for creative gift ideas for these volunteers?
Feeling like part of a team is important, even if a lot of your work is done alone. When planning volunteer gifts for the eco-conscious, consider something reusable. A T-Shirt, for example, is relatively low cost, it shows appreciation and recognition of your volunteer's role in the greater team, and it gives your volunteer something they can be proud to wear. It can also help spread awareness of your organization as it is worn in the community. If it's made be recycled or consciously grown fibres, even better!
Childcare and Teaching Volunteers
Anyone who works with children deserves a round of applause and a gift card to a spa, in my humble opinion! Educators do more than just mind people’s children while they work - they also help shape the minds of the future.
Caregivers, volunteers in class, in after school programs, tutors, and those who travel to volunteer around the world are often given the responsibility to ensure that all children receive the level of care and attention they deserve - no matter what the circumstances.
This level of commitment is often honored through an annual volunteer appreciation event. Volunteers can be recognized in front of their peers and may be given a certificate or plaque to recognize their service, or a small gift. More and more, however, physical get-togethers may be limited due to geographic separation, travel restrictions, and a wide variety of other factors depending on the area of the world they’re working in.
Some volunteer recognition ideas that work no matter the circumstances are digital gifts! Virtual gifts can be a great way to show how awesome your volunteer force is.
Something as simple as a social media shout-out of the Volunteer of the Month or celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Week, can go a long way. An added bonus when it comes to social media shout-outs is that they also broadcast how great your organization is to work with, while making sure your volunteers feel valued and encouraged in their work.
Often, your volunteers get involved while in school and on their path to employment. In that case, a simple volunteer appreciation idea for nonprofits is to recognize individual volunteers for their contributions through LinkedIn endorsements. Your recommendation, or validation of their skills and their positive attitudes may help them win their dream job in the future.
Activism is often a rough road. Organizing rallies, events, or trying to motivate a neighborhood, city, or community to take action, is an extremely difficult and thankless task. If they're reaching out within their community, activist volunteers are often met with hostility if their knock on the door is even answered at all!
There's a risk of violence or personal injury when even the most peaceful intent can quickly escalate, and occasionally you're placing yourself in a position of civil disobedience which could spell trouble with the law. Often, no matter how hard you work, it can seem fruitless and disappointing if you feel your message isn’t being heard.
Unlike other volunteer opportunities, where there are often mini-rewards every day in the work itself - activism often doesn’t have rewards until months or years later. Volunteer appreciation ideas for activist volunteers in your life are extremely important to keep them motivated.
If the work requires a lot of stress on the body, consider a gift-certificate for a massage or a spa. If you can, bring your volunteers together so that they can be motivated by others at an appreciation event or rally that also serves as a weekend away. And don't underestimate the power of a genuine, heart felt thank you - either in person, or a hand-written note! That can go a long way in recognizing strength and perseverance.
No matter what type of volunteer you’re appreciating, we’ve found that nothing beats a heartfelt message from the whole team! Gifts for volunteers are best when personalized, showing you’ve thought specifically about that individual and their hard work. There are many thank you gift ideas for volunteers out there that lack the personal touch that makes a human connection. A VidHug Group Hug video, with messages of support, encouragement, and thanks from the organization, peers, and the people that they're helping through their volunteer work can have a huge impact! Yes, we’re a little biased, but everyone taking a few minutes to express their gratitude can really lift someone’s spirits and make them feel valued and appreciated.
Check out this quick edit from The Violet Society, a career mentorship & community for female and non-binary start-up founders. This is from VidHug's early days, but society members found VidHug to be the perfect tool to help them make a thank you video for volunteer mentors.