10 Great Ways to Recognize Your Volunteers

Volunteers.  They are the people that make ministry happen.  Think about the amazing volunteers you get the privilege to serve with.  They give of themselves to make a difference in the lives of others.  They reflect the heart of Jesus, who came to serve. 

God has always worked through people who are willing to say "Here am I, send me."  And you get to rub shoulders with those people each week in the hallways and classrooms and parking lots and auditoriums and supply rooms and foyers of the ministry.  You get to serve with them in the community...both locally and sometimes even internationally. 

Volunteers serve, not for the accolades, but to bring honor and glory to God.  Most serve behind the scenes, unseen by the crowds.  They didn't sign up to volunteer so they could get a plaque on the wall. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't recognize them for volunteering.  Why?  Because every volunteer needs encouragement.  Because every volunteer needs to know they matter.  Because every volunteer needs to know what they do matters.  Because every volunteer needs to know they are appreciated

With that in mind, here are 10 great ways you can recognize volunteers and show them how much you appreciate them. 

#1 - Recognize a "Volunteer of the Month."  Each month, honor a special volunteer.  Give them a thoughtful gift.  Create a poster with their picture on it and brag on who they are and what they do. 

#2 - Host a volunteer recognition weekend.  Go out all to recognize volunteers that weekend.  Have them stand during the service and thank them.  Host a luncheon, dinner or other special event for them.  Encourage people to bring them thank you notes and small gifts of appreciation.

#3 - Recognize a volunteer each time you meet.  When you meet as a team, recognize one volunteer and thank them for serving.  Say something nice about their heart for serving and mention what they contribute. 

#4 - Recognize volunteers for years of service.  Keep track of how long volunteers have been serving and honor them on their serving anniversaries.  If you use lanyards for volunteers, consider having pins made they can place on their lanyard for each year of serving.

#5 - Recognize them on their birthday.  Give them a birthday card with a handwritten note and small gift.  For the gift, keep a list of their favorite candy, treat, etc. and give them one of their favorites.

#6 - Create a brag board for them.  Create a bulletin board.  Put the picture of the volunteer you want to recognize on the board.  Place sticky notes and pens by the board.  Invite other volunteers, children, parents, etc. to write a "brag note" for the person you are recognizing and add it to the brag board.

#7 - Recognize a volunteer in the church bulletin.  Put their picture in and recognize them for the impact they are making.

#8 - Take a volunteer out for lunch and personally share with them the spiritual gifts you see in them and how they are being used by God to make a difference. 

#9 - Send a volunteer a personal, hand-written thank you note and recognize them for who they are and what they do to serve others.  Here's a tip to help with this.  Create a folder for each volunteer and place a blank note in each folder.  Each week select a few folders and write a note to those volunteers.  Once you've emptied all the folders, fill them again and start over.  

#10 - Recognize a volunteer on social media.  Post their picture and brag on them.  Encourage other people to leave a brag comment with the post.  Facebook and Instagram are great places to do this. 

Did you know people who are recognized are...
  • 5 times more likely to feel valued.
  • 7 times more likely to stay with the group.
  • 11 times more likely to be completely committed to the group.
If you want to keep volunteers, then you've got to recognize volunteers.  Recognition definitely helps with retention.

If you'd like more ideas on recognizing and retaining volunteers, my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams" is packed with great information and inspiration.  You can get it in either ebook or hard copy at this link.  

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What are some other ideas for recognizing volunteers?  Share your ideas and insight with everyone in the comment section below.