Appreciation goes a long way. It's like gas in the tank. Every time a volunteers serves, he/she is spending time and energy. They're burning fuel. It's your job as the leader to make sure you refuel your volunteers.
Easier said than done right? Every person recieves appreciation differently. Some people prefer a tangible gift and others respond better to a word of encouragement. If you are able to track your volunteer's "appeciation language, great! If not, remember this – any apprecation is better than no appreciation.
Show your volunteers that you really do care about them. Appreciation is an investment. It will cost you a little money on the front end, but reap huge dividends on the back end.
Always make it personal! Handwritten notes are more effective than form letters stamped with your signature by the secretary. Face to face gratitude trumps reconition from the platform.
Just to get your creative juices flowing, here are ten ways to refuel your volunteers this week!
1. Send a card in the mail. Never overlook the power of getting something in the mail…that's not a credit card offer. Write a handwritten note expressing your sincere gratitude for what they do.
2. $5 gift card. One church invested five bucks in all of their volunteers in the form of a gift card. Yes, it cost thousands of dollars, but the investment was definitely worth it!
3. Time off. For the lady who sits with 2 year olds every week picking up crusted animal crakers, this does wonders! Show you care by giving people breaks from serving. First, this is always refreshing for the volunteers. Second, it helps recruite and train other volunteers to stand in the gaps.
4. Give away T-shirts. Your church probably already has some availibe. If not, they're pretty cheap to have made. Every time people wear it they're promoting your church!
5. Free night out. Host a night out for your volunteers by offering free childcare at your church. You may need to recruit other volunteers to help, but this can be a huge blessing to volunteers with kids.
6. Candy gram. Hand out a piece of candy with a note attached. Be creative! Give a 100Grand bar with note saying, "You're worth 100 grand to us!" or a package of Reese's that says, "We love you to pieces." It's a small act, but communicates we thought of you.
7. Give a promotion. If someone has shown faithfulness in a certain ministry, give them more responsibility. Not just more work. Put them in charge and watch them grow as a leader.
8. Give a book. There are lots or resources online to find books in bulk. Have some in stock and readily available to give to a volunteer who shines.
9. Say, "Thanks!" on social media. Snap a picture and post it on your church's social media accounts. Tag the person and brag on them.
10. New tools. No, I'm not talking about a new hammer or drill. (Although that might be fitting if your maintenance guy is a volunteer!) Make sure your volunteers have the tools necessary to do the task you are asking them to perform. Maybe the production team is working with outdated, slow eqipment. Maybe the hospitality team is using a broken coffee maker. Ask volunteers what resources are needed, and get a gameplan for how you can provide top notch equipment.
When was the last time you really invested in your volunteers? Don't wait until they're burnt out and ready to quit. Refuel now and refuel often.
What creative ways have you used or come across to invest in volunteers? Comment below.