8 Ways to Get all Hands on Deck for International Volunteer Day (Dec 5)

Join organizations and communities around the globe on December 5th to celebrate International Volunteer Day!

Begun by the UN in 1985, International Volunteer Day is intended for organizations of all kinds – private sector, governmental, not-for-profits – to celebrate the people who selflessly give their time and energy to improving the common good.

Showing gratitude for your volunteers should be a year-long effort, but December 5 is a great day to put some extra energy into gratitude. Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning:

  1. Send a funny ePraise card, thanking your volunteers and bringing a smile to their faces. We like this one from Baudville. 
  2. Conduct a series of interviews with your volunteers – We’re talking impromptu, casual, on-the-go, iPhone video style and post a series of “making a difference” stories on your website and social media. 
  3. No one likes to brag, but everyone likes to share. Promote and tag your volunteers by name on social media so their peers and friends can see the great work they’re doing. Check out the UN’s #GlobalApplause campaign for a cool recognition idea and hashtag. 
  4. Engage those being served in the thanking. Examples include – thank you notecards printed with kids’ artwork from your programming or a small token made by senior citizens at your center. 
  5. Celebrate the day by hosting a special “Bring a Friend” volunteer event. Invite each volunteer to bring a friend to a volunteer opportunity within your organization. It’s a great way to let your current volunteers shine while engaging potential new members as well. 
  6. Make sure volunteers see the bigger picture. In the face of large-scale problems, it’s easy to feel like your small contribution isn’t making enough of a difference. To foster engagement, always engage volunteers in the “why” of their work. 
  7. Ask for feedback. If someone is giving you their time and effort – at no cost – it’s important that they have the opportunity to share what’s going well and what you can do to improve. They’re there because they want to help. Let them by listening. 
  8. Give them props – On LinkedIn, as a formal reference, or offer to write a letter of recommendation on their behalf.

Don’t limit your efforts to just one day! Find ways throughout the seasons to celebrate the dedication of your volunteers, and mark your calendar for this year’s National Volunteer Week, April 23-29.

Gina Calvert

Gina is the Senior Marketing Writer for ACTIVE Network, providing marketing and business resources for active lifestyle organizations across a range of markets, including government, nonprofits, YMCAs, Parks & Recs, camps, schools and endurance events, for almost 7 years.

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