Get creative! Organizations should provide volunteers with the same opportunities as employees, including training, supervision, feedback, and opportunities for professional development. The more specific you can be toward each individual, the better. Volunteers generally do not want you to spend a lot of money to appreciate them. (If they did, they’d likely spend their time at a part-time job earning wages, not volunteering.) Meaningful rewards are often small but personalized. Many volunteers value a homemade card, framed kids crafts, gift cards in small amounts (to a local coffee shop, for example), or photos of the organization in action. Additionally, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of simply telling a person, face-to-face, that you value what they do and would love to have them continue to offer their services.
Remember some volunteers are more visible than others, and more easily make strong impressions. Be watchful and fair. Recognize all contributions, not just those on the “front lines.” Timeliness is also important. Recognition doesn’t matter as much if it comes six months after a successful event. Finally, recognize volunteers publicly, whether at a formal event or just in the office break room. Celebrations deserve to be shared.