Thanking Volunteers

Well, the fundraising year is done. You’ve reconciled all your money and presented it to the beneficiaries; you’ve signed off on all your paperwork and records for the year; thanking volunteers and supporters is all done, right?

Have you made a point of thanking your committee?

Sometimes, rattling off a list of thanks to your committee members won’t be enough. Remember – the committee that feels valued will be back next year, which will save you a LOT of headaches getting the new year underway.

That’s why it is so important to finish your fundraising year on a high note. Take the time to thank all the volunteers that have made it happen.  Of course, there are as many ways to thank fundraisers as there are fundraising ideas themselves.

Some of the more popular ideas for thanking volunteers include:

  • Throwing a party: from a backyard barbie to a black tie dinner, anything goes! Make your volunteers the focus of the event with a personal thank you speech. Try and have fun, and create a sense of community among the volunteers.
  • Conducting a prize giving ceremony:  this is a great time of year to reward hard workers with well-earned incentive prizes. But don’t just drop the prizes off after work one day or pop it in the post – try and make the award publicly. School assemblies, sporting club award nights or even an event organised especially. Most people enjoy a sense of occasion!
  • Giving your personal thanks: Of course, the ability to give personal thanks will be dictated by the size of your fundraising operation. Most fundraisers have between 1 and 20 volunteers, which means some sort of personal gesture should not be out of the question. It could be as simple as a phone call, a handwritten note of thanks (so much more personal than email), a card or even a small gift.
  • Token gift but from the heart: I heard recently about an outgoing president presenting each of the executive committee members (from during their three years as president) a children’s book that best described their time together on the committee.  A brief explanation was read out in front of the school community at the end of year concert.
    •  This was a relatively inexpensive way to show some very hard working volunteers that their time and contribution was appreciated and it was much more entertaining than a certificate presentation. As they were children’s books, the children could also relate to the stories.  This idea could be adapted to any committee.   The bonus for the school was that a note was included in every book asking the committee member to donate the book to the library if it wasn’t suitable for their family. Here’s a couple of examples:
      • The Gruffalo – Like Mouse, Bob is a master storyteller. Each Treasurer’s Report took us on an adventure, some were related to the numbers, others….brought colour and humour to every meeting.
      • Diary of a Wombat – Like Wombat you were awesome at getting us to adapt to your ways, (sometimes, without us even knowing it). Committed to the cause, you also were happy to bash a bin when required. Our fundraising dollars have never been safer.
  • If your school or clubhouse has a carpark, allocate a ‘volunteer of the week’ car space, and reward a different volunteer each week.
  • Connection to the cause: no matter how you thank your volunteers, be sure they are told how their efforts went, and what will be happening with the funds.

Don’t let this one slide

No matter how busy you are, or how exhausted you may feel, there are few jobs that are as important as thanking and recognising your volunteer force. And when the time rolls around again to find volunteers for the new fundraising year, you may find that people remember you with a warm heart, and volunteer again.

Mandy Weidmann is Australia’s ‘Fundraising Whisperer’ – publisher of the Fundraising Directory and author of the Practical Fundraising Handbook for School and Club Volunteers. Mandy believes that parent volunteers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time and is passionate about providing resources to make fundraising easier (and more fun).

Follow the Fundraising Whisperer Facebook page to take part in great information sharing with Australia’s school and club volunteers.

Originally published: 31 August 2017

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