“Thank you.” Don’t you feel appreciated when someone says those two words to you? So simple, yet so impactful! We like to hear it said to us, but do we strategically think about how we say it, or show it, to our volunteers? We know it’s important. But do we make it a priority? While we may carve out time and budget dollars for an annual Volunteer Appreciation event, how are you saying “Thank you!” to those folks who show up so faithfully, Sunday in and Sunday out?

There are actually some “free” and very low budget ideas that can make your volunteers feel like a million bucks! You can:

*Go old school and send a handwritten thank-you note through the mail. In today’s busy shoot-me-a-text world, the time taken to actually write a note and put it in the mail says a great deal to your volunteers about how much they mean to you. Doing this randomly, a couple of times a year will go a long way!

*Weekly emails of encouragement and information. Believe it or not, keeping your volunteers informed goes a long way in helping them feel appreciated. I get an email every Monday morning from the children’s director where I serve. She reminds us of the impact we have by sharing a story of something that happened the day before, passes on something a parent has shared with her, or something she overheard a child saying in our hallways. She reminds us of anything that is coming up on the church calendar that we need to take note of—especially if it is taking place in our ministry environment. AND she attaches our lesson for the upcoming Sunday so we have plenty of time to familiarize ourselves with what we’re teaching.

*Feed them! Something as simple as coffee, water and donuts (or bagels) waiting for them each Sunday morning let’s them know you value the time they are giving and you recognize they have to make the effort to get there before everyone else!

*Gift Cards—of the $5 variety—on their birthday. The amount isn’t the issue, it’s the simple art of recognizing it’s their special day!

*T-shirts to wear on Sunday. While this can be a little more of a monetary investment, it’s nice to provide them with something to wear (one less thing to think about on Sunday morning). AND it helps to create a team atmosphere!

When we take the time to find ways throughout the year to tell our volunteers “thank you,” we help create an atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation. This, in turn, leads to having volunteers who actually WANT to serve with us. Which means we have to spend less time finding volunteers to replace those who stop serving. It’s really a win-win. So, be strategic and appreciate those volunteers!

What are some of the creative ways you have been able to let volunteers know how much you appreciate them? Post your “thank you” ideas below so we can all learn from one another!