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Donor recognition is an important part of the fundraising campaign, and recognition of volunteers should be equally high on the list.

It is true that no fundraiser can be successful without supportive donors, but it is just as true that no fundraiser can succeed without volunteers. Without volunteers, there is no fundraiser. Volunteers deserve the recognition of the group they support just as donors do. And for the same reasons – so they feel appreciated, so others know their worth, and so they will feel compelled to volunteer again in the future.

Recognizing volunteers does not have to cost a lot of money (although if that’s in the budget, fabulous!); it does, however, need to be personal and classy. There are many great ways to recognize the selflessness of volunteers.

  • Thank You’s – regardless of whether additional recognition is given, a heartfelt, personal thank you note should be sent to all significant contributors
  • Volunteer Plaques – a nicely displayed plaque garnering thanks and recognizing individual volunteer’s efforts
  • MVV (Most Valuable Volunteer) Award – presented publicly if possible, or at a meeting of the fundraising committee at the very least
  • Volunteer Walls – a tile (brick, etc.) on a wall with the name(s) of indispensable volunteers with thanks
  • Press releases – sent to area media publications, local TV stations, and newspapers, thanking individuals publicly
  • Wrap-Up Party/Recognition Night – a party or cocktail hour/hors d’oeuvre night where volunteers and group members can mingle, relax, enjoy their success, and recognize noteworthy volunteer donations
  • Coffee and hors d’oeuvre hour – when a larger party is not a possibility, a coffee hour to recognize volunteers can be thrown for very little money
  • Recognition during events – schools may have the opportunity to recognize valuable volunteers at school functions, awards nights, sporting events, or graduations; church groups and sports teams may find similar opportunities
  • Gifts of recognition – perhaps as simple as a small bouquet of flowers, or a larger, more personal gift; may be a small engraved plaque or curio the individual can display in their home; if it’s in the budget, gifts are a great way to prove an organization’s appreciation beyond a doubt

Volunteer recognition should always be a part of fundraiser planning, perhaps even worked into the budget when possible. But whether a group’s budget is big or small, there is always a way to publicly recognize valued volunteers so that they know their effort has been donated for the betterment of a worthy organization who knows the value of their time.

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