3 Secrets to Showing Volunteers You're Really Thankful for Them

Did you know that 65% of volunteers say they haven't heard the words "thank you" in the last 12 months?  That's sad, isn't it?  When we don't take the time to thank our volunteers, they end up feeling used and taken for granted.

Saying the words "thank you" is important, but if you really want to help your volunteers feel loved and appreciated, here are 3 secrets to bringing depth to those words.

Secret 1 - Thank them for who they are instead of for what they do.  What do we normally say?

"Thanks for all you do."

And that's okay.  But if you really want them to feel appreciated, thank them for who they are.  It will mean so much more to them.  Here are a few practical examples.

"Thank you for your heart for God and for the next generation."

"Thank you for being a person full of compassion and kindness for kids who don't seem to fit in with everyone else."

"Thank you for being a person of character, integrity and faithfulness. 

See the difference?  This shows you value them as a person over what they do for the ministry.

Secret 2 - Thank them for something specific that you've seen them accomplish.  After you've thanked them for who they are, this is the next step.  Here are a few examples.

"It's awesome how you made the new little boy feel welcome last week and helped him make some friends." 

"I noticed last week how you captured the kids' attention while you were teaching.  You are so gifted at communicating with kids."

"You did an amazing job organizing the crafts for the preschool rooms last week.  The teachers loved it and it made the craft time flow so well for the kids."

Secret 3 - Give them a personal gift.  Giving all your volunteers candy or another small gift with a note attached is a good thing.  In fact, here's 50 ideas for this.

But...if you really want to show them how thankful you are for them...give volunteers a gift that is special to them.  Here's how you can do this.  Have each volunteer fill out an information sheet that asks what their favorite food is, what their favorite candy is, what their favorite color is, what their favorite hobby is, etc.  Then go and purchase that unique item and give it to them with a personal, handwritten note.

Here's an example.  You find out one of your volunteers loves Almond Joy candy bars.  So you go and buy him or her that candy bar and attached it to a personal note.  Bam!  The person will feel appreciated as an individual.

My friend, Frank Bealer, shared with me that he found out one of his volunteers loved a special kind of candy bar that couldn't be found in stores in their area.  So he went online and ordered it for her.  It meant so much to her that he would go the second mile to show how much he appreciated her.  That is an awesome example of how to really thank a volunteer.

They say people don't leave a job, they leave a manager.  In many, many cases that is true.  And I think the same could often be said for volunteers in the church world.  They stop volunteering because they feel used instead of valued.  Let's go all out to show them how much we appreciate them.  Without them, there is no children's ministry.  One of the most important things you will do as a leader this week is say the two words "Thank you."

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  How do you express your gratitude to your volunteers?  What are some special things you've done for them?  Share your ideas and thoughts with everyone in the comment section below.