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Volunteer Recognition - A Few Simple Ideas

For my first ever (yikes!) blog posting, I wanted to write about something near and dear to my heart – volunteer recognition. I have been privileged throughout my career to have worked with a number of tremendous volunteers – busy individuals who constantly astound me with how they manage to find times in their lives to contribute to their industries through meaningful board and committee participation.


I firmly believe that every nonprofit organization should have a well-articulated volunteer recognition program, since it is important to properly recognize these individuals – without them the organization would not be able to function, and furthermore these volunteers can end up becoming your organization’s most vocal and visible ambassadors.

Volunteer recognition does not need to be an onerous, expensive proposition.  There are a number of ways to recognize your board and committee members, even for those organizations on a tight budget.  A few no-cost suggestions:

  • Recognize them at an association event – this does not necessarily mean that they be invited to attend the event at no cost, but if you notice that they are registered to attend, make a point of asking them to stand and be recognized at the event
  • Give a recommendation to your volunteers on their LinkedIn profile, outlining specifically how their volunteerism was of value to the organization
  • Your organization likely has a variety of communication mediums at its disposal – website, newsletter, annual reports – use these tools as forums for giving your volunteers some recognition through volunteer profiles
  • A letter to their boss outlining the value their employee has provided to the association….who wouldn’t like their boss to get a glowing recommendation about them?
  • A simple thank you card can go a long to making someone feel appreciated
  • Have a wall of fame – a well-used hallway or area in your office building where pictures of volunteers can be hung
  • Also good for the wall of fame….implement an annual volunteer of the year award

This is just a smattering of simple, free ways to recognize your volunteers.  Ultimately, the best service you can provide to your volunteers is to have clear job descriptions for their role, including well-defined expectations and accounting of time requirements, provision of the opportunity for contribution, and efficient use of and respect of their time.

What has worked within your organization as far as volunteer recognition?

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