Recognising and valuing volunteers is one of the cornerstones of volunteer management good practice. With an estimated 14 million people volunteering at least once a month in 2015/16, it is clear volunteering has a huge impact on our communities and we should make every effort to recognise this.

Our Get Out Get Active programme delivers inclusive sport volunteering in 20 localities and plans to engage 2000 volunteers, so we asked them for their top recommendations on valuing volunteers:

  1. Celebrate your volunteers all year round

Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) is a fantastic time to hold a celebration event but make sure you value and recognise your volunteers throughout the year, not only during Volunteers’ Week.

  1. Make it personal

Social media is a great, public way to thank and celebrate your volunteers but unless they are checking your social media accounts, how will they ever know how grateful you are? In addition to publicly showing your appreciation through social media, go beyond the normal thank-you tweet and recognise your volunteers more directly too.

  1. Understand your volunteers

Each volunteer will be donating their time for a different motivation. Understanding these motivations is very important in being able to show your thanks in a way they will appreciate. A student volunteer might appreciate training opportunities more than a retired volunteer might, for example.

  1. Say thank you

This is the easiest and probably most effective way to recognise your volunteers. And it’s free! Say thanks to your volunteers often and be sincere and specific when you do it. Saying thanks can be done informally – in person, on the telephone, email or card and/or formally at special events. Make sure everyone understands why you have volunteers and why they are so vital to your organisation.

  1. Show them they are part of the team

Volunteers are an integral part of any organisation, not an add-on service. Making them feel like part of the team is incredibly important and can be done very simply by giving them a uniform, a volunteer badge or t-shirt. Good communication is equally important: involving volunteers in newsletters or staff emails, or simply providing volunteers a platform to share their experiences and find out information is a simple way of involving a volunteer.

  1. Award Certificates

Certificates are a great way to recognise and physically qualify a volunteer’s contribution; you could also give them branded merchandise such as a badge or a canvas bag. Having something tangible for the hours put in can often make all the difference to a volunteer and act as not only an incentive, but a source of pride.

  1. Social Events

Many volunteers’ motivation for getting involved is to meet new people, something we have found increasingly in people with disabilities and retired people. Organising a volunteer social is a great way to bring all your volunteers together, and regular interaction with your volunteers helps to keep them inspired and motivated.

  1. Training

Training volunteers shows that you value them and want to invest in them.. We have found this is especially interesting for volunteers motivated to improve their skills and employability, or those applying for higher education/employment. Plus, training your volunteers is a win-win situation!

  1. Volunteer awards

Show your appreciation for your volunteers and nominate them for awards. Or, you could put on your own internal awards! Remember to always be fair and make sure that all volunteers are supported, valued and recognised.

  1. Volunteers are ambassadors!

Remember that a happy volunteer is a great ambassador for your project and organisation. If you haven’t done so already – thank your volunteers today!”