Inexpensive Fun Ways to Recognize and Reward Volunteers
Yvonne Petersen -
Arizona Museum of
"Feeling appreciated is one of the most important needs that people have. When you share with
someone your appreciation and gratitude, they will not forget you. Appreciation will return to
you many times."
I. No Cost Recognition Ideas (page 2)
II. Easy and Simple Recognitions (pages 2-5)
A. Send cards
B. Display Appreciation Signs/Posters
C. Volunteers in Action Displays
D. Volunteer Holiday Tree
E. Treat & Candy Ideas
III.Honor volunteers during National Volunteer Week (page 5)
IV. Plan Annual Ceremonial Occasions (page 6-8)
A. Refreshment Ideas
B. Use a theme
C. Programming ideas
D. Inexpensive event recognition gifts
E. Door Prize Donations
F. Volunteer Poems and Thoughts
V. Where to go for more ideas (page 8)
VI. Examples from the mind of Yvonne (page 9 +)
No Cost Recognition Ideas:
Greet by name
Give personal compliments
Put up a volunteer suggestion box
Hold rap sessions
Keep challenging them
Give additional responsibility
Enlist to train other volunteers
Send newsworthy information to the media
Include in Newsletters & Member newsletters
Say "We missed you."
Praise them to their friends/parents/spouse
Motivate all staff to converse with volunteers
Defend against hostile or negative staff
Persuade Personnel to equate volunteer experience with work experience.
Give the opportunity for volunteers to recognize the good efforts of other volunteers
Let the volunteer know when a visitor has made a positive comment about them.
Help develop self-confidence
Nominate for outside volunteer awards
Leave out of museum politics
Motivate staff to recognize and appreciate them
Have a pot luck
Identify age groups
Provide useful tools in good working condition
Carefully match volunteer with job
Take time to explain
Provide opportunities for conferences and evaluations
Provide good pre-service training
Easy and Simple Recognitions
A. Send Cards
a. Premade, create yourself
b. Hand made cards by volunteer
c. Note: put a volunteer in charge of birthday cards
i. A month ahead, the volunteer can: put birthday cards together, address them,
d. Email cards: include group staff pictures in email cards
B. Appreciation Poster/Sign Ideas
Happy New Year. . . This is a good time to give our volunteers a cheer!
Volunteers are the Heart of the Museum
We LOVE our Volunteers
St. Patrick’s Day
We are LUCKY to have such wonderful volunteers
Our volunteers are like the Pot of Gold at the end of a rainbow.
Our volunteers are EGG-ceptional
Some “Bunny” thinks you’re egg-stra special
We’re “hopping” to it to tell you how great our volunteers are!
4th of July
Flag: Our volunteers INSPIRE by Example
Uncle Sam: We want YOU to know how much we appreciate you
4th of July themed picture: Our volunteers have real spirit!
Fireworks: It’s a blast having volunteers like you!
Skeleton: No bones about it. . . AzMNH has the best volunteers
Black cat: It would be a “Cat-astrophy” if we didn’t have such wonderful volunteers
Ghosts: Our volunteers have real Spirit!
Trick or treat clip art: It is a real treat having you as a volunteer!
Cornucopia: We are grateful our volunteers
Squirrels: We are nuts about our volunteers
Holiday Tree: Our volunteers are “Tree-mendous”
Snowmen: There’s “snow”body like our volunteers
Miscellaneous Poster/Sign Ideas
Trophy: We succeed because of you.
Report Card/School: Our volunteers are a grade above the rest.
Earth/World: Volunteers make a difference.
Thank you in several languages: No matter how you say it. . . we appreciate our
Travel Poster: No matter where you go, you won’t find better volunteers.
All kinds of hats: Hat’s off to our volunteers.
“Defining” Moment Posters
Ex-cel-lent: 1. Produces a quality of volunteering that is remarkable. 2. Willing to do
what it takes to serve. 3. Delivers amazing results. 4. AzMNH Volunteers
Ded-i-cat-ed: 1. Displays passion for everything they do. 2. Understand their part in the
success of the museum. 3. Goes the extra mile to get the job done. 4. AzMNH
A-chiev-er: 1. Focused on volunteering. 2. Does more than expected in everything they
do. 3. Delivers amazing results each time they volunteer. 4. AzMNH volunteers.
Volunteers in Action Displays
Where: Public areas, volunteer areas, break rooms
What: Pictures of volunteers in action on bulletin boards, tri-fold display boards, digital
frames, website, Facebook, newsletters
Volunteer Holiday Tree
Take a picture of each volunteer
Scrapbook the pictures onto a 3” x 6” strip of stiff paper
Punch holes at the top for string
Hang them on the tree in your lobby for all to see and enjoy
Treat and Candy Ideas
Eclairs: we d’éclair, you are a wonderful volunteer
Donuts: We donut what we would do without you!
Muffin: There is “muffin” like a volunteer like you!
M&Ms: Our volunteers are Mighty & Marvelous!
Reisens: There are many REISENS why we think you are a great volunteer!
Mounds: Thank you for the MOUNDS of service you give! Or Thanks for the “Mounds”
of work you do!
Gummie Bears: THANKS! Without you volunteering, things would be un-bear-able! Or
Thanks, you are “Beary” special!
Uno candy bar: I hope “Uno” how much we appreciate you!
Pop Rocks: We think you Rock!
100,000 Grand bar: You are worth more than “100,000 Grand” to us!
Snicker Bar: Please don’t “Snicker,” but we think you’re great!
Twiks: B-twiks you and me, you’re a great volunteer!
Skor bar: We really “Scored” big when you started volunteering!
Almond Joy: It is a real “JOY” having you as a volunteer!
Can of Soda: We are “SODA”-lifted that you are an AzMNH Volunteer!
Rice Krispie Treat: Thanks for putting the Snap, Crackle & Pop into volunteering!
Pear: It is “a-pear-ent” that you are a wonderful volunteer!
Pasta: You are “Pasta-tively” a super volunteer!
Gum: Thank you for always “Sticking” to the job! Or Thanks for “chewsing” to
volunteer at AzMNH!
Cracker Jacks: You’re a “CRACKER JACK” of a volunteer!
Jolly Rancher: Thanks for always having such a “jolly” attitude!
Bit-o-honey: You are such a “bit-o-honey” when it comes to volunteering!
Nerds: We would be a bunch of “nerds” if we didn’t thank you for volunteering!
Take Five: It’s time you “take five.” You work really hard as a volunteer!
Pay Day: Every time you volunteer it feels like a “pay day!”
Look Bar: Every time we “look” you are doing a fabulous job!
Krackle Bar: Thanks for putting the snap, “Krackle,” and pop into volunteering!
Lollipop: We can “lick” any problem as long as you volunteer!
Nuts: We are NUTS about you!
Hershey’s Hugs & Kisses: Here’s some “Hugs & Kisses” for all you do!
Lifesaver: Having you as a volunteer is such a “lifesaver!”
Whoppers: Thanks for helping us have such a “whopper” of a volunteer group!
Treasure chocolate: You are a real “Treasure” to our museum!
Gold chocolate coins: Volunteers are worth their weight in “Gold!”
S’more granola bar: It would sure be great if we had “S’more” volunteers like you.
Big Hunk: Here’s a “big hunk” of thanks for all you do!
Act microwave popcorn: Thank you for being such a class “act!”
Fruit roll-up: You really “measure up” as a great volunteer!
Skittles: Thanks for not “skittling” away when the job gets challenging!
An Assort-Mint: Use peppermint patties, Andes mints, or any other type of mints
Thanks for your commit-mint
Thanks for your encourage-mint
Thanks for your involve-mint in our museum
Thanks for your invest-mint of time
It is such an enjoy-mint to have you as a volunteer
Thanks for helping to create a nice environ-mint
Honor volunteers during National Volunteer Week
Usually held the 3rd week in April
Volunteers in Action display in lobby
Continental breakfast with the director
Plan Annual Ceremonial Occasions
Ice cream sundae bar
Italian Soda bar
Super sandwich bar
Use a theme – Ideas:
1. Volunteers are the key to our success!
a. “You are the Key to our success. Without you many doors & projects of the
museum would have been shut. Your volunteer actions are the key that helps
us keep them opened.”
b. Gift: Key chain with logo on it
2. Volunteers are a real treasure!
a. “A treasure map sent us searching for a jewel hard to find. One that’s truly
priceless because it’s polished and refined. As you reveal your sparkling
qualities it’s obviously true, X marks the spot for treasure and. . . the treasure
b. Gift: Cardboard treasure box filled with candy
3. Our Volunteers go the Distance!
a. Powerpoint presentation on what it means to go the distance
b. Cheerleader: Cheers for every volunteer area
c. Gift: Water bottle with museum logo on it
4. Hats off to our volunteers
a. We tip our hats in thanks and gratitude for your dedication and can-do
b. Gift: Hat with museum logo
5. Thank you for giving us a hand!
a. Gift: Deck of cards with museum logo
6. Volunteers make a measurable difference!
a. Gift: Ruler/tape measure: “It’s easy to measure the difference you’ve made at
AzMNH! You’re amazing!”
Special keynote speaker
Fun skits done by staff
Slideshow of volunteers
Special recognition given by staff members
Recognition of the number of hours given
Acknowledge 2 or more volunteers from one household (two for one)
Present thoughts, poems, or stores about volunteers
Inexpensive event recognition gifts
• A champagne glass filled with Hershey’s kisses – put note on the glass “A toast to a job
• Flat chocolate bar wrapped with a personal message
• A framed quote relating to volunteerism for the volunteers to put on their desk or hang on
• Small plant: “Thanks for continuing to help us grow!”
• Permanent marker – You’ve made a lasting and permanent contribution to our Museum
• Highlighter: Volunteers are the “Highlight” of the museum.
• Note pad and pen: We think all you do is NOTEworthy! Thanks for being a stupendous
• Candle – present a calendar with a card saying “No one can hold a candle to our
• Small notebook calendar: We appreciate our volunteers all through the year! Or Thank
you for the time and talents you give the museum.
• Dry cookie/brownie mix – AzMNH volunteers have all the right ingredients!
• Pizza cutter: No matter how you slide it, you’re appreciated!
• You’re a cut above the rest, and because of all you do, please accept this special gift and
our very warm, we thank you!
• Bookmark or magents:
o Create a bookmark with an appreciation saying on it or you can buy special
magnet kits that allow you to print on the back of them. Example of things that
could be written:
! 100 years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the type
of house I live in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different
because I was a VOLUNTEER.
! Sports theme: We call and we email, we ask for your time
And you give of it so generously, never expecting a dime
The task may be daunting but you always come through
This museum would be nothing without each of you
We express our thanks, just as often as we can
Please know that we, the AzMNH, are your biggest fans
Volunteer thoughts and Poems
Volunteers – author unknown
Many will be shocked to find,
When the day of judgment nears,
That there’s a special place in Heaven,
Set aside for volunteers.
Furnished with big recliners,
Satin couches and footstools,
Where there are no committee chairmen,
No yard sales or rest area coffee to serve,
No library duty or bulletin assembly,
There will be nothing to print or staple,
Not one thing to fold or mail,
Telephone lists will be outlawed.
But a finger snap will bring
Cool drinks and gourmet dinners
And rare treats fit for a kin.
You ask, “Who’ll serve these privileged
And work for all they’re worth?”
Why, all those who reaped the benefits,
And not once volunteered on Earth.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness and the smiles you bring to every face.
With each moment of service you give, the world becomes a better place.
Your commitment your organization makes you really stand out.
We’re grateful to have you here. You’re what volunteering is all about.
Where to go for more ideas
Baudville Greetings www.baudvill.com
Positive Promotions www.positivevolunteers.com
Energize Inc www.energizeinc.com
Volunteer Connection www.volunteerconnection.net
Seattle Schools www.seattleschools.org
More Volunteers www.morevolunteers.com