How to Do a Simple Volunteer Appreciation Celebration

You appreciate your volunteers, and you probably do a few things every year to show that appreciation.

In the past we’ve appreciated our volunteers by giving them small gifts a couple times a year and spending a couple minutes before our trainings to say thank you.

While that is good, this year we wanted to do something different; we wanted to thank our volunteers on a bigger scale; we wanted them to really know how much we appreciate them, beyond small gifts and generic  thank yous.

So we decided to plan an hour long Volunteer Appreciation Celebration preceded by a meal to  have fun with our volunteers and thank them.

This was the first time we’d ever done an event like this, and we definitely made some mistakes, but I wanted to share our experience in case you’ve ever thought about doing something similar.

But before I go through each part of the celebration, I want to simply say that what helped us get really good participation was inviting our volunteers 3 weeks in advance.

3 weeks before, we sent out an email describing what we would be doing (simply having fun and thanking our volunteers), which included a link to an online sign-up.

2 weeks before we sent the email again to anybody who hadn’t responded.

1 week before we sent another email and a text to anybody who hadn’t responded.

In the end we had about 90% of our volunteers respond and most of them committed to coming.

Something we neglected to do that hurt the attendance slightly was send out an email and text reminder a couple days before the celebration (especially for volunteers who had committed 2-3 weeks before and had forgotten about it).

With that said, onto what we actually did.

Part 1: Food

Any good celebration has to have some good food.

We wanted something that wasn’t super expensive, but also not pizza.

We looked around and settled on KFC.

I know it’s not super fancy or classy, but our volunteers really enjoyed it (and they now sell grilled chicken too!).

It ended up being around $5/person.

We had fried and grilled chicken, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, and biscuits.

We gave our volunteers about 30 minutes to eat before we started the celebration.

We also gave each volunteer a personal health survey to fill out, which I’ll come back to in step 4.

Part 2: Fun

We started off by having one of our leaders do a silly monologue with memes.

Then we played a couple Minute to Win It games (This Blows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAV18VpIUH4 and M&M Sorting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW012M8ngB0)

After that we enjoyed a short Tim Hawkins video about “Atheist Kid’s Church Songs” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26nJjNDsbmk)

Part 3: Thank Yous

First we had our Senior Pastor come up and say thank you.

Then we had our Senior Pastor’s wife share a story about how one phrase a Kid’s Volunteer said in passing changed the trajectory of a child’s future.

Next we had one of our high capacity volunteer leaders come up and thank everyone using some different metaphors.

After that I came up, as the Kid’s Pastor, and thanked our volunteers for what they do.

And our plan was to end with a video of kids from each Small Group thanking their Leaders for what they do, but unfortunately the volunteer we asked to do the videos took pictures instead of recording what the kids said (like I said, we made some mistakes).

Part 4: Ice Cream, Gifts and Personal Health Surveys

After all that, we invited our volunteers to grab a bowl of ice cream and hangout for a little before they left.

On their way out we gave them a gift.

We got cups from a website called Baudville.com (here are the actual cups we ordered: https://www.baudville.com/corporate-gifts/drinkware/tumblers/value-tumbler-together-we-are-extra-ordinary/details/10/2/90837)

We put a full size candy bar in each one along with a couple packets of lemonade powder.

It was at this point that we also collected the personal health surveys we had handed out to volunteers during lunch (You can read all about our personal health survey in this post: How to Check on the Health of Your Volunteers)

We had a great time and are looking forward to doing it again next year!

What are some special ways you do volunteer appreciation? Leave a comment.

And if this was helpful in getting you thinking, please pass it along by sharing on Facebook!

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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Brandon Horst

I am passionate about family, especially my amazing wife, Hannah, my daughter, Emery, and my son Tristan. I am also passionate about helping Family Ministry Leaders lead better. I love new ideas, innovation, and collaborating with other leaders to make those ideas and innovations better. I currently serve as the Next Gen Pastor at Centerpointe Church in Fairfax, VA.

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