Your volunteers, partners, and other helpers are an essential part of what you do. Of course, saying “thank you” is always a good idea. Anyone can attach a kind note to a candy bar or send a thoughtful holiday postcard. While those are definitely effective thank you gift ideas, they don’t really reflect the genuine gratitude you want to convey. Taking the time to go a step further in showing your appreciation, though, is a smart strategy.
Try something unique to really show your volunteers and supporters how much you truly appreciate their time! We’ve picked 7 of our favorite thank you gift ideas that your volunteers will love:
- Limited edition t-shirts
- Special celebrations
- Swag bags and baskets
- Training and education
- Hall of fame ceremony
- Parking privileges
- Coupons and tickets
These ideas are flexible, leaving plenty of room for customization, and they’re adjustable to suit any budget. Approach any thank you gift ideas you’re drawn to with a sense of excitement and creativity, and feel empowered to make it your own.
While this post is framed mainly around thanking your volunteers for their support, all of these ideas can easily be adapted to show your gratitude to donors, sponsors, and other supporters.
Pursuing your mission and continually thinking of new ways to fundraise is never easy work. Your volunteers are among your most important partners, so act like it! Read through each of our thank you gift ideas for plenty of tips and resources that can get you started today.
1. Limited Edition T-Shirts
Creating custom shirts for your volunteers is one of the smartest and most flexible thank you gift ideas out there. You might already print customized shirts to act as uniforms for volunteers at your events like public projects, festivals, or pet adoption drives.
However, while important for helping your supporters feel valued and necessary for the work they do, uniforms that simply say “volunteer” aren’t exactly the best way to express gratitude.
There are a few ways around this. By following one or more of these strategies, you can create a volunteer appreciation t-shirt that they’ll treasure for years to come:
- Design and print commemorative event t-shirts, then give one to each volunteer.
- Get their input and suggestions for the design of your next volunteer uniform t-shirt.
- Create a new edition volunteers-only t-shirt every year.
Branded apparel is a surprisingly powerful way to foster a sense of belonging among your community and volunteers. A limited edition shirt that commemorates an awesome event or successful campaign is a great way to thank your volunteers. It’s also a strong tool for reaffirming your relationship.
2. Special Celebrations
Hosting a celebration to thank your volunteers and supporters for all their hard work is one of the most effective thank you gift ideas out there. Best of all, the size and scope of your celebration can be completely adjusted to suit your needs and budget. There are a few common types of thank you celebrations that anyone would love to receive an invitation to:
Event Kick-Off or Wrap-Up Party
Including a fun mixer element to your pre-event volunteer training sessions will let them know that you value their support. Later, host a small party to reward your fundraising leaders, with campaign prizes and a fun night out.
Major Celebratory Trips
For larger groups with budgets that can handle it, thanking your most dedicated volunteers and supporters with a major trip can be a good idea. Meeting your major capital campaign goals, for instance, might call for a major celebration!
Thank You Dinners and Potlucks
A nice catered dinner could be a great way to thank everyone for a successful pledge drive. Or a more casual potluck supper might be perfect for gathering to celebrate the important mission that your whole team shares.
Holiday and Seasonal Parties
You never really need an excuse to throw a thank you event for volunteers, but holidays definitely help. Plus, they create great opportunities for event theming and activities. A simple holiday party goes a long way to make your supporters feel valued.
The main point to remember here is to stay creative. There’s no one single way to throw a special celebration to thank your volunteers. What will they appreciate? From donuts and coffee to evening mixers to fully catered meals, there are all kinds of ways to give your volunteers a good time.
3. Swag Bags and Baskets
Non-physical thank you gift ideas can be especially meaningful, but nothing gets right to the point like a swag bags make for perfect thank you gifts. Show your volunteers how much you appreciate their devotion and hard work by treating everyone to a special collection of gifts at your next event or celebration.
Include items like t-shirts, branded water bottles, candy or other treats, gift certificates, and anything else you think your supporters will love! Gift baskets and bags are completely flexible to suit your budget and group’s size, so take your time. You might develop a gift basket around a theme to guide what kinds of goods to include, like one of these:
- Movie Night. A pack of popcorn, a gift certificate to a theater, a DVD of a recent hit, and a huge candy bar would all be great ideas for this basket.
- Picnic in Paris. Add some preserves, a baguette, cheese, and a small bouquet of fresh flowers to really thank and impress your volunteers.
- In-Home Spa. This swag bag works great after an exhausting major event. Think soaps, candles, bubble baths, and facial masks.
- Pet Goodies. If you know that most of your volunteers have pets, treat them to gift certificates, dog toys, or cat treats you know will be put to good use.
4. Training and Education
Offering additional training and education opportunities to your volunteers is among the most meaningful thank you gift ideas out there. Focus these opportunities on a handful of your most devoted volunteers or members who regularly prove themselves to be great at organizing and leading events.
For example, an animal rescue and pet adoption organization might offer these opportunities to its most loyal supporters:
- A seminar luncheon with your organization’s director about starting a nonprofit, municipal animal control policies, or nonprofit management techniques.
- Small-group, personalized tour of a local zoo to learn more about any exotic or unusual pets that might be rescued.
- Training courses in any management or membership software your organization uses.
Investing this kind of attention and training in your volunteers says more about how much you value their work than most other gifts can. Devoted volunteers who already spend a good deal of their free time supporting your work will appreciate these opportunities.
Plus, it strengthens the ties between your volunteer and your organization. Additional opportunities to learn more typically result in increased engagement. Your volunteer’s role could evolve to become a permanent position as your nonprofit grows as a result of their hard work.
5. Hall of Fame Ceremony
What better way to formally recognize your volunteers than creating a permanent space to display their names and achievements? A hall of fame installation can reflect the essential role they play in helping you achieve your mission.
Like our other thank you gift ideas, recognition displays can be adjusted to suit any scope or budget. You might create any of the following:
- A plaque to recognize the volunteer of the year
- A special wall of plaques and bulletin boards to display major achievements by your volunteers
- Engraved bricks with volunteers’ names to be included in a supporter walkway
- Awards or certificates of achievement with prizes
These strategies are often used as a fundraising tool in annual or capital campaigns as a way to offer donors a legacy at your organization. For instance, building or moving into new facilities calls for a special area devoted to recognizing all the people whose hard work and gifts made it possible.
As a volunteer thank you gift, including devoted supporters can be especially meaningful. Organize a ceremony to honor your volunteer inductees and plan a small celebration. Create gift baskets or commemorative shirts, ordering as few or as many as you need, then start inviting your supporters.
6. Parking Privileges
Don’t underestimate the value of a reserved parking spot! If your organization is based in an urban area where parking can be a battle, this simple idea could be a great way to thank your top volunteers for their hard work. Start by finding the most convenient parking spot at your offices or facilities.
There are a number of reasons why creating a reserved parking space is among the best thank you gift ideas:
- Extremely simple to implement
- Free if your organization has its own facilities
- Inherently valuable and useful for your most devoted volunteers
- Flexible as a thank you gift and engagement incentive
You could offer this special spot to a single volunteer who goes above and beyond, donating their time very frequently. Or you might use this thank you perk into your annual awards. It could become a coveted volunteer-of-the-year prize that everyone wants to achieve!
7. Coupons and Tickets
Have you ever created a coupon book or discount card to sell as part of a fundraising campaign? This thank you gift idea follows a similar concept.
Reach out to local businesses and ask them to consider creating a special (or even free) offer for your volunteers. Generous businesses might be willing to simply donate these gifts. Start with your own local corporate sponsors and businesses with which you have existing relationships.
Then print special coupon books, certificates, or tickets to give as easy volunteer appreciation gifts. Some popular ideas might include:
- Massage or spa services
- Local restaurants or coffee shops
- Movie theaters, museums, or zoos
- Amusement parks or bowling alleys
Creating a special insiders-only appreciation gift like a coupon book contributes to a culture of sustained relationships for your organization. This is especially true if you can find and secure some really great offers!
Showing gratitude to your supporters for their hard work is an important part of building stronger relationships. Always say “thank you,” but make sure you take the time to express your thanks with your actions, too.
Unique gifts and opportunities are the best way to thank those whose support is essential to what you do. Keep exploring for more information and tips on engaging your supporters!