6 Inspiring Volunteer Appreciation Week
Gifts, Ideas & Activities
When is Volunteer Appreciation Week?
National Volunteer Week, also referred to as Volunteer Appreciation Week, was first created in 1974 to promote and inspire volunteer projects and volunteerism around the country. Volunteer Appreciation Week occurs annually in the third week of April. For 2023, Volunteer Appreciation Week runs from April 16th to April 23rd. Volunteer Week has expanded to become National Volunteer Month, a month-long celebration that takes place every April. Additionally, there is a special day designated each April as well- Volunteer Recognition Day, also called Volunteer Appreciation Day, which typically takes place during the middle of Volunteer Appreciation Week.
Who Should Celebrate National Volunteer Week?
- Nonprofit Organizations
- Animal Shelters
- Any group looking to thank volunteers and inspire new ones to take action!
Now that we’ve established that April is the perfect time to recognize the valuable contributions that volunteers make throughout the year, thank your team for all that they do with one or more of the volunteer appreciation activities and gift ideas listed below.
Volunteer Appreciation Ideas
- Host a Party
Invite your team of volunteers to a party where each person’s contribution is recognized.
Volunteer Appreciation Party Ideas
Whether you are thanking PTO parents, church volunteers, or charity helpers, your hard workers will need and deserve some down time. Facilitate high-fives and whooping it up with a few fun volunteer appreciation activity ideas.
The best thing about throwing a party for your volunteers is that you can pick from a wide variety of fun themes. Be as simple or creative as you want to make the event special and memorable. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Red Carpet Event
Who wouldn’t want to be recognized like the top stars in Hollywood, the multimillion dollar sports figures, or the richest executives in the country? Your volunteers are probably just as important to your organization – make them feel that way.
Roll out the red carpet as volunteers enter your party venue, complete with a photo station and famous-vibe backdrop. Splurge for some fancy hors d'oeuvres and champagne to celebrate their contributions.
Table decorations, speeches, and recognition awards can follow the rock-star theme, helping your volunteers celebrate their own “night at the volunteer Emmy’s.”
- Low-Budget Pot-Luck
We know organizations that rely on volunteers don’t always have a lot of money to shell out for celebrations. Remember that it’s the thought and recognition that counts. Plan a pot-luck celebration where each volunteer family brings a side, dish, or dessert to share – assign categories by last name so you have a nice variety.
Spend your limited budget on some affordable gifts, plan some inexpensive games, and most importantly, use the time together to share the contributions of all your volunteers, recognizing their importance and expressing your heartfelt appreciation.
- Favorite Activity
Volunteer parties don’t have to be stiff and formal. Depending on the nature of your organization, its mission, and the types of volunteers you attract, consider planning a party around a favorite activity in your community.
For example, if you have many family volunteers, host a celebration at a bowling alley, skating rink or local park. If your organization’s mission attracts older, established professionals, consider a private showing of a movie, a ballroom dance, or a group theater night as the backdrop to your celebration. Young, single volunteers may appreciate parties that revolve around activities like escape rooms or murder mystery dinners that promote interaction and friendship.
Volunteer Game Ideas
If you’ve decided to host a volunteer recognition event that’s more of an open house format, you may want to plan some fun games to help break the ice, get volunteers interacting and networking, and keep the spirits high. Here are some possible ideas:
- Scavenger Hunt
Plan a scavenger hunt for volunteers, either as a way to encourage them to talk with one another or to introduce them to different leaders in your organization. For the former, come up with a list of items that most people may carry such as pens, lipstick, candy or bandages and offer prizes for those who discover all the items. Or, the hunt can be for individuals such as a person who is an only child, owns a bird, or drives a red car. For the latter, volunteers can find the executives who run certain aspects of the organization or have unusual hobbies.
- Carnival Games
While family-friendly volunteer parties can keep children busy with popular carnival games, an adult version can be created as well. For example, if your volunteer recognition activity is in a gym, host a free-throw activity, a dart-throwing competition, or a corn-hole tournament. Volunteers can get to know one another through the competitions and be rewarded with fun gifts and prizes.
- Talent Competition
Create your own entertainment by encouraging groups of volunteers, individuals, families or friends to come up with a talent to share the night of the big event. Encourage audience members to vote for their favorite act and award prizes accordingly.
For a more impromptu version of this game, organize a team game of charades at the event itself or create a list of organization-related phrases that can be acted out for any brave volunteers who want to make the attempt. Award prizes for both those who communicate and guess the right phrases.
- Red Carpet Event
- Plan a Luncheon
Cater a special luncheon for volunteers to show them how much they are appreciated. Give each volunteer a commemorative t-shirt ahead of time that they can wear to the event. Don’t forget to take a group photo! Hand out a thoughtful giveaway such as customized water bottles with a thank-you message or your organization’s logo printed on each one.
- Hold an Award Ceremony
Host a dinner party or other award ceremony to recognize the outstanding efforts of your volunteers. Hand out printed certificates, awards, and other thank-you gifts, such as a personalized pint glass set or custom Bluetooth® speaker.
- Send a Thank-You Card
Whether you send an e-card or send one through snail mail, a personalized thank-you message can go a long way. If you plan to send a custom greeting card through the mail, consider including a gift card or other flat, lightweight, and small token of appreciation like a magnet with a message of thanks, phone wallet with your organization’s logo and the name of this year’s initiative, or a printable coaster made from seed paper. Want to keep it easy and unexpected with a card that doubles as a gift? Send InstaCake Appreciation Cakes in a Card, a card that comes with all the ingredients need to make a mini cake in the microwave inside it, or a chocolate maze card that combines a game with a sweet chocolate treat!
- Harness the Power of Social Media
Social media posts which thank volunteers and highlight their projects and efforts are a great way to recognize your volunteer team and serve as a great recruitment tool to encourage others to participate in your cause. Post pics of volunteers a in action as well as at your appreciation events with this fun selfie frame.
- Volunteer Appreciation Gifts
Still looking for more ways to make your volunteers feel recognized and valued? Here are a few more thoughtful gifts for volunteers that your helper squad is sure to enjoy every time they use them:
- Custom Coffee Tumblers
A custom insulated tumbler is a useful appreciation gift for volunteers that your team can use every day with their favorite hot and cold beverages. The 20 oz Himalayan Tumbler and 16 oz Accents Stainless Tumbler are two of many great choices. Add a fun and inspirational quote to your tumbler to make your gift even more unique.
- Personalized Umbrellas
- Logoed Blankets
Your volunteers give you the warm fuzzies, return the favor by gifting them embroidered blankets! Whether it is a fleece throw blanket to keep them cozy at home, or a logoed picnic blanket for outdoor fun, your volunteers will feel good every time they use it.
- Stress Relievers
Volunteers give their time, energy, and mental bandwidth to great causes every day. Some of the best volunteer gift ideas are those that encourage self-care and stress reduction. Choose from branded stress balls in a hashtag shape to go along with your social media campaigns, or a star-shaped or heart style. After all, volunteering is an act of the heart!
- Other Favorites
Still looking for the perfect bulk volunteer appreciation gifts? Here are some other top selling volunteer thank you gifts:
- Custom Coffee Tumblers
Thanking volunteers isn’t limited to April. International Volunteer Day, recognized by the United Nations, takes place on December 5th, 2023, and Random Acts of Kindness Week is celebrated during February 12th through 18th this year. Random Acts of Kindness Day is recognized on February 17th, 2023.