Inspiring Generosity


More Ways to Thank Your Volunteers

      Volunteers rock!     Ray Sangga Kusuma on Upsplash

It’s a fact:
There is never a bad time to thank a volunteer.
Last week’s blog suggested four ways to thank volunteers.
1. Recognize them at a meeting.
2. Send a thank you note.
3. Make a phone call.
4. Host an appreciation night.
You, dear and creative readers, offered more ideas.
Sally Blanchard, Project and Office Manager for the OR-ID Annual Conference, provided these suggestions on how volunteers were thanked when she worked at Lake Oswego UMC (OR):
“Once a year in the late spring the church staff, including the pastors, hosted a volunteer thank you luncheon for all the office and building volunteers who helped us throughout the year. We did all the cooking and serving for around 30 guests. 
We tried out themes like

  • Fiesta
  • Picnic
  • Baseball

Each staff member prepared a large dish or two and we served it either potluck style or plated and even had a themed ‘mocktail’ (non-alcoholic but festive) in pretty glasses served as our guests arrived. The most fun was serving the volunteers and reminding them we appreciated them serving the church all year.
We would have an inexpensive gift for each person with a scripture verse, poem or note with their name on it. 

  • One year it was a lifesaver necklace because they had all been ‘lifesavers.’ 
  • Another year it was a $100,000 dollar candy bar because they were all worth millions.
  • Bookmarks were made and wrapped one year and we themed it 'you each have marked a spot on our hearts and we are so grateful.' 

[Modestly, Sally says:] No, I’m not that creative, I borrowed ideas from Pinterest and teachers.”
Rev. Karen Nelson sent in this idea on how she was recognized by Christ UMC in Cedar Mill, OR:
“This spring we had a church staff person show up at our house with two flower pots with spring plants in them (one for my spouse and one for me) and a thank you note for being church volunteers. No contact and long-lasting thank you.”
And this reminder came in from Cilla Coe of La Grande UMC (OR):
“As to how I would like to be thanked - I don’t seem to need it as much anymore, but I remember appreciating acknowledgement when I was a newer member of the church and trying to contribute, and not sure if I was helping or not. I hope that leaders will especially remember to recognize those who are newer to the congregation, busier, and easily lost to other pursuits or organization/churches when they don’t feel appreciated or needed.”
Finally, in the-practice-what-you-preach category, last week, I wrote three thank you notes to volunteers who rotated off a committee I chair. Guess what? One of those people called to thank me for thanking him. From what he said, it was evident that no one had taken the time to show appreciation for all the work he had done, not only on my committee, but also for a time-intensive committee he chaired for more than three years.
Thanking matters.
Now, thanks to Sally, Karen, and Cilla, you have more ways how and reminders to appreciate volunteers. Start small if you must but (as some little company says) “just do it.”  Don’t forget… There is never a bad time to thank a volunteer. Have fun thanking!

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Want to know about the kinds of people who volunteer?  Then watch the funny 18 Types of Volunteers. You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.


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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.