Have you thanked your volunteers this week?

Have you thanked your volunteers this week?

According to Independent Sector, the estimated value of a volunteer hour is $22.55, but to many organizations a volunteer’s time and dedication is priceless. This week is National Volunteer Week, an annual presidentially-proclaimed holiday that celebrates service in our country. Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week is about inspiring people to seek out ways to engage in their communities and learn about the possibility of social change. The nonprofit community often takes the week-long holiday as an opportunity to recognize and appreciate their organization’s volunteers. Nonprofit Connect touched base with a few experienced volunteer managers in Kansas City to see what National Volunteer Week looks like at local organizations.

Amber Bourek, Volunteer Services Manager at Harvesters, reports that her team creates a theme for each National Volunteer Week. In 2014 the theme is Academy Awards because Harvesters volunteers are stars! The staff treated volunteers all week with prizes, free t-shirts and candy, and hosted “The Harveys,” a volunteer appreciation luncheon complete with awards and a red carpet. Staff and AmeriCorps members also created a volunteer appreciation video, featuring the Golden Girls theme song “Thank You for Being a Friend.” Harvesters Topeka is hosting a Happy Hour event for volunteers.

Wayside Waifs made a point to focus on the quality of volunteers this week, rather than the quantity, according to AnnMarie Thomas, Director of Community Outreach. Last year the staff celebrated the over 100,000 volunteer hours completed, but this year they wanted to share the volunteer stories. “Who else is willing to clean cat kennels at 3am, deal with countless poops from puppies in foster, file paperwork and help with data entry needs, walk dogs who are over excited to get out, provide mental enrichment for our cats and dogs, and support our Mission only asking for puppy kisses and kitten purrs in return? Volunteering is not only a donation of time, but the gift of physical and emotional resources,” said AnnMarie. Each department at Wayside is scheduled to bring snacks for volunteers throughout the week, resulting in a friendly competition to see who can bring the best goodies!

Kristi Hutchison, Chief Marketing Officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City spent this week focusing on the impact that BBBSKC’s volunteers have on the community. “Littles report improved self-esteem and better grades, they are less likely to use drugs and alcohol and are more likely to graduate high school and college, all of this through the power of a mentoring friendship.”

Harvesters and Wayside Waifs are also using social media heavily for their volunteer appreciation this week. AnnMarie reported that Wayside Waifs shared messaging around the impact their volunteers have in the organization. Harvesters created their own hashtag for the week related to the Academy Award theme: #HarveStars. Staff set up a photo booth in the volunteer break room complete with costumes, and encouraged volunteers to share pictures on social media using the hashtag.

Though organizations often have limited resources to devote to volunteer appreciation, recognizing those individuals who dedicate their time to your mission is incredibly important for volunteer morale and retention. National Volunteer Week is a great opportunity for creativity in thanking our volunteers.

Save the Date

Volunteer Management Institute, April 23-25

AnnMarie Thomas and Kristi Hutchison, as well as Paula Pratt of Harvesters, will all be speaking at Volunteer Management Institute, a three-day volunteer management intensive featuring volunteer management experts from local organizations. This workshop is perfect for the seasoned veteran wanting to brush up on the basics, or the novice volunteer manager just learning the ropes.

Register for Volunteer Management Institute here.