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How to thank Volunteers in the Digital Age: 6 Top Ideas

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How to thank Volunteers in the Digital Age: 6 Top Ideas

Your nonprofit has a lot on its plate. You have donors to steward, events to plan, and programs to run. Fortunately, your volunteers readily commit their time and energy to help you make all this happen.

To create a thriving volunteer program, however, you’ll need to develop practices for frequent and meaningful appreciation. Modern technology has created many cost-effective and time-saving options for thanking volunteers. In this guide, we’ll cover six compelling ideas that will strengthen your volunteer relationships in the digital age.

1. Send a personalized eCard.

While your volunteers share a passion for your nonprofit’s cause, it’s important to recognize them as individuals with varying skills, interests, and motivations for getting involved. Rather than sending out generic thank-you emails following every volunteer event, use an eCard platform to craft personalized messages that your volunteers will want to read again and again.

Volunteer appreciation eCard examples that can inspire your nonprofit’s efforts to thank volunteers.

NXUnite’s volunteer appreciation guide recommends using eCard design tools to incorporate fonts, colors, and graphics that represent your nonprofit. In each eCard template, include a space in the message for the recipient’s name and specific details about what each volunteer did to help your nonprofit. Doing so ensures each volunteer feels individually valued for their efforts.

For instance, one eCard might read, “Claire, thank you for lending a helping hand in revamping our website. The result is incredible and we’re so grateful for your support!” while another might say something like, “Steve, thank you for helping to make our charity auction an astounding success! We hope to see you at our next event.”

2. Produce a thank-you video.

A thoughtful thank-you video can leave a lasting impression by demonstrating just how much your volunteers mean to your nonprofit and those you serve. Plus, you don’t need state-of-the-art technology to record a short testimonial from a beneficiary or a group message from your staff.

Keep your videos short yet sincere to convey your message without losing your viewers’ attention. Once you’ve finished filming and editing them, send them out to your volunteers in a dedicated email or in a featured section of your email newsletter. If you’re creating a year-end video to recognize all of your past volunteers, you can post it on a variety of platforms such as social media and your website to expand your reach.

Furthermore, keep accessibility in mind to reach and retain more volunteers. Include captions in your videos and add a transcript so that all of your volunteers can appreciate your thank-you message.

3. Create social media shoutouts.

Social media is a powerful marketing tool that allows your nonprofit to build personal and meaningful connections with your volunteers online. Following an event, thank your volunteers by featuring their stories in a social media shoutout.

But how do you collect these volunteer stories? The process typically involves these steps:

  1. Reach out to volunteers and ask them to share their latest volunteer experiences and reasons for supporting your nonprofit.
  2. Obtain their permission to include their name and picture in your social media post.
  3. Review submitted stories and adapt them into a series of volunteer shoutouts.

A 2023 VolunteerPro survey has found that one out of three volunteer managers indicate volunteer recruitment is their biggest challenge. These social media shoutouts have the added benefit of inspiring others to sign up for a volunteer opportunity after reading about your current volunteers’ positive experiences.

4. Present digital certificates and awards.

For volunteers who go above and beyond in service of your nonprofit, consider presenting them with a certificate or award that they can cherish for years to come. For instance, you could create award categories like:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Young Trailblazer
  • Inspiring Innovator
  • Limitless Leader

Volunteer Impact users can access the complimentary Volunteer Badges feature. This feature enables organizations to award badges to volunteers who reach specific milestones or demonstrate exemplary skills and service levels.

Volunteer Impact Badges

Additionally, take your gratitude a step further by including a gift card or other small token of appreciation alongside the award. eCardWidget’s list of corporate gift ideas includes nearly 200 gifts that you can use as a jumping-off point for your volunteer thank-you’s, such as personalized mugs, branded Christmas ornaments, and customized planners. There’s plenty of room to get creative, as long as you focus on what will resonate with each volunteer’s interests and needs.

5. Host a virtual volunteer appreciation event.

Your volunteers may be scattered across the state, country, or even the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gather them together for a virtual appreciation event.

Whether you’re holding an award ceremony or a casual happy hour meet-up, make your volunteer appreciation event a smooth and memorable experience by:

  • Promoting it on multiple platforms in advance.
  • Encouraging volunteers to interact in the live chat or breakout sessions.
  • Sending swag boxes or delivering meals to volunteers before the party.
  • Engaging attendees with videos of volunteer stories and beneficiary thank-you messages.

Be sure to place your volunteers’ impact at the center of your virtual appreciation event. After all, your volunteers get involved to make a difference in their community, and this is your opportunity to show them just how much they’ve accomplished.

6. Share surveys to collect feedback.

Demonstrate to volunteers that you’re committed to developing strong, long-lasting relationships with them. After volunteer opportunities, follow up with a survey to collect their feedback on their recent experience.

For example, you might ask questions such as:

  • Did you find your orientation and training helpful in preparing you for your role?
  • Did you have the resources and assistance necessary to perform your role?
  • What, if anything, can we do to make your next volunteer experience more rewarding?

Store survey responses in your nonprofit’s database and use them to identify areas where you can improve your volunteer program moving forward. Taking these steps demonstrates that you’re dedicated to providing your volunteers with the best possible experience.

However you choose to thank your volunteers, encourage them to stick around for the long haul by sharing additional engagement opportunities. While your thank-you messages should focus on appreciating volunteers for their contributions, continue to stay in touch afterward by using their preferred communication channels.

Down the line, you can encourage them to deepen their involvement by organizing birthday fundraisers on your behalf or signing a petition to support your advocacy efforts. Frequent recognition and flexibility are key to cultivating a passionate community of volunteers to fuel your nonprofit’s impact.


Thanking volunteers will bring many benefits to your organization. Not only does expressing gratitude make your volunteers feel appreciated and valued, but it also helps to foster a sense of community and loyalty among them. By acknowledging their efforts and contributions, you create a positive and supportive environment that encourages them to continue volunteering and even recruit others to join in. Furthermore, showing gratitude can lead to increased volunteer retention rates, as volunteers are more likely to stay engaged and committed when they feel recognized and respected. Ultimately, a culture of appreciation can help to strengthen relationships, boost morale, and enhance the overall effectiveness of your volunteer program.

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