Cheap Volunteer Recognition Ideas

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According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 62.8 million Americans volunteered their time through or for an organization in 2010. Even in times of economic downturn, individuals can find time to give back within their communities. Whether serving hot meals at a local homeless shelter or acting as a Girl Scout troop Leader, you must show appreciation for these volunteers and recognize them for their efforts. Acknowledging their dedication to your cause will lead to higher rates of volunteer commitment over time.

Gift Card

One way to say thank you to your hard-working volunteers is in the form of a gift card. The gift card does not need to be extravagant, and should only be a $5 or $10 denomination. A card for a local coffee shop, bakery, deli or movie theater are affordable options that will allow the volunteer to enjoy a small treat as a thank you for their time and efforts.

Organization Promotional Items

Produce branded mugs, to-go coffee containers, umbrellas or reusable shopping bags with your organization's logo. Fill the mugs or containers with candy, such as mints or M&M's, and give to your volunteers as a token of your appreciation for their hard work. They will think of your organization each time they use the item. The key, however, when giving promotional items is that they will be used by the recipients.

Thank You Notes

One of the most inexpensive ways to recognize volunteers is in the simple form of a thank-you note. While you can have the head of your organization write a note of appreciation, a note from a person who has benefited from the organization and volunteer's services can go a long way in showing your appreciation. For example, a program for disadvantaged youth might distribute thank-you notes from a child who has seen success in the classroom as a result of that volunteer's time.


Whether you plan to recognize one volunteer or many, show your appreciation by hosting a luncheon honoring them. Plan an annual event, and invite the volunteers with a personal invitation to make them feel special. Have the event catered, or bring your own dishes for the group to enjoy. Plan to speak a few words about the organization over the past year, then take the time to address each volunteer individually.


About the Author

Quinn Collins is a marketing manager for a global commercial real estate firm. Since 2007, Collins has published work on websites such as and LIVESTRONG.COM, and creates nationally distributed market reports for her firm. Collins holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and psychology from Denison University.

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