Membership + Marketing

10 Ways to Recognize and Reward Your Association’s Volunteers

10 Ways to Recognize and Reward Your Association’s Volunteers

Volunteering isn’t easy. It almost always requires extra time and work, as well as a larger commitment to the association. Dedicated volunteers, however, play pivotal roles on boards, committees, and chapters, as well as ensuring meetings and events run smoothly. Why do they do it?

For some, the answer is their ability to make a difference. The intrinsic satisfaction of guiding an important project or shepherding an impactful initiative is enough to keep them motivated and engaged.

For others, volunteering provides professional development opportunities they may not have in their paid positions. In volunteer positions, members can stretch their skills to meet new challenges, returning to their jobs with new and battle-tested abilities.

Finally, some members volunteer to make new professional connections. Working in small groups allows members to forge strong bonds with other volunteers, especially if the project lasts several months. Plus, volunteering helps members establish positive reputations within their industries.

No matter what motivates your volunteers, your job is to keep them energized and committed. And although they’d probably work without recognition, it never hurts to verbalize or show your appreciation. 


1.     Personalized thank-you cards

Think of the last time you received a handwritten thank you note. It’s probably been a minute right? It’s retro, but a note expressing gratitude for their service and personalized with specific details about their contributions can be powerful.

2.     Special volunteer events

Invite volunteers to a sporting event, special dinner, or a volunteer-only activity during your next major event. If you serve members in a localized area, you can plan a stand-alone event. Include special treats or behind-the-scenes tours.

3.     Volunteer spotlights

Highlight a volunteer of the month in your newsletters, website, or on social media platforms. Tell their stories, spotlight their contributions, and share fun information about them.

4.     Customize volunteer ribbons, badges, or certificates

Decorate your volunteers’ meeting badges with special recognition. Veteran members often carry many, many ribbons on their meeting badges, so think about pins or stickers. Flashing pins can add whimsy to volunteer recruitment efforts.

5.     Volunteer hall of fame

Create a physical or digital “Volunteer Hall of Fame” and showcase outstanding volunteers and their accomplishments. Think about adding this section to your website, a wall in your office, or a page in your association’s newsletters.

6.     Social media shoutouts

Give volunteers a shoutout on your association's social media platforms. Share pictures, quotes, or testimonials to highlight the volunteer’s impact and inspire others to get involved.

7.     Surprise appreciation gifts

Send surprise appreciation gifts to volunteers, such as branded merchandise, gift cards, or items related to their interests. This unexpected gesture will show that their efforts are noticed and valued.

8.     Themed recognition weeks or months

Dedicate specific weeks or months throughout the year to celebrate volunteers and their contributions. Create themed activities, contests, or challenges to keep the recognition engaging and fun.

9.     Special training or development opportunities

Offer exclusive training sessions, workshops, or professional development opportunities to volunteers. This not only recognizes their commitment but also invests in their growth within the association.

10.  Volunteer of the year award

Recognize an individual or a class of volunteers with a Volunteer of the Year Award at a high-profile event such as your annual meeting. Spotlight the volunteer’s achievements and their impact on the association. Save the announcement until the end of the event and make the presentation suitably grand.


Remember, the key is to make volunteers feel valued and appreciated for their time and effort. Personalized and thoughtful gestures go a long way in fostering a positive and appreciative volunteer community.

Related Posts

Your members are ready for what's next. Are you?