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6 Inspiring Volunteer Appreciation Week
Gifts, Ideas & Activities

published: March 9, 2020  |  updated: February 7, 2023
Boss and co-workers showing appreciation to employee

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
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Animal Shelters
  • Churches
  • 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

  1. 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.

    Hand out custom printed swag bags filled with small appreciation gifts such as sunglasses printed with your organization’s logo and sweet treats.

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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:

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.