A team of volunteers working together is a beautiful thing. As a leader, there are things you can do to encourage growth and health for the team, but ultimately you are dependent on volunteers showing up and collaborating. If you are a leader, you know the success of your team would not be possible without your volunteers. If you are a volunteer, know you carry an important role!
One of the most important things a leader can do for their volunteers is express gratitude. We are encouraged by Paul to constantly give thanks to God (Col 3:17). Additionally it is of great value to express gratitude to those you lead.
Here are 3 tips for expressing gratitude to volunteers:
- Have a System – This does not mean to be cold and disconnected, but rather know ahead of time your plan for expressing gratitude. The key is allowing people to experience an organic expression of gratitude even though you have a clear plan. Things such as a hand-written note go a long way. Putting a system in place could mean writing a certain number of hand-written notes each week, so over time all of the people you lead receive hand-written encouragement.
- Avoid Financial Tokens of Appreciation – Be careful in the methods that you use to express gratitude. Meaningful appreciation does not require a certain amount of money. In fact, financial gifts can often be misconstrued as some alternate form of payment. Avoid tokens of gratitude which seek to compensate for work performed or time given.
- Be Genuine – One of the greatest gifts a volunteer can receive is the realization that their leader is genuinely proud of them and grateful for them. To connect with a volunteer on a heart level and honor them well the leader must be willing to show their own heart. No matter the context of the team you are on, sincere words go a long way. Risk vulnerability when expressing gratitude; your volunteers need to see your heart.