Kathy’s Top 13 Ways to Thank Auction Volunteers

Would it surprise you to know that 79% of volunteers give to charity compared to 40% of non-volunteers? (Giving USA Foundation 2014*)

Volunteers Create A Spirit of Auction Philanthropy!

So here’s my first big strategy for recognizing your volunteers.  Engage each volunteer personally. Ask each person what they would like to do before every event. Don’t randomly assign tasks or assume they would like to do the same volunteer job each time. Remember, sometimes they would like to perform or learn a new volunteer task that is completely different than their regular life.

Second giant volunteer recognition strategy:  Ask your leaders and VIPs to engage your volunteers.  When I volunteered at a local film festival, I was so impressed that board members, film makers and a famous film producer made a point to thank me personally for volunteering – even when I had a broom in my hand sweeping up popcorn after the film! From the volunteer side, it meant the world to me.  What a great reminder for me about the power of personal recognition and thanks for our auction volunteers too!

So keep up the enthusiasm throughout the many months of auction planning. Give lots of recognition, thanks and especially nutritious healthy food!

Here are a checklist of meaningful volunteer recognition ideas.

  1. Communicate the impact of each volunteer’s effort to further your cause
  2. Be explicit about how their time, talent and contributions are making a difference for your organization.
  3. Deliver excellent volunteer training with written notes.
  4. Create opportunities for volunteer to get to know each other outside of working on your fundraising auction
  5. Ask your board and staff to talk personally with volunteers about why they are so dedicated to your cause. Learn more what impassions them.
  6. Write personal hand-written thank you notes.
  7. Call each volunteer personally and ask for their insights and ideas.
  8. Invite them to participate in other ways your organization at other events and programs.
  9. Serve nourishing food during meetings, set up and auction night for all of your volunteers.
  10. Solicit sponsors to provide all the volunteer meals.
  11. List each volunteer in the auction catalog.
  12. Hold a special thank you reception with great food. Include special awards, prize drawings and have fun.
  13. Smile and say thank you personally and often!

Thank your volunteers early and often. The spirit of recognition and appreciation creates a dynamic climate for future participations and giving.

And what about you? I’m sure you have some more great volunteer thank you ideas to add. Will you share them as a comment below?

(*Giving USA Foundation (2014). The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2013. Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy: Indianapolis, Indiana.)
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