Written by Kate Smith, originally published January 7, 2014
William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Are we doing enough, or anything for that matter, to let our volunteers know how much we appreciate their help?
Anyone involved with a historic site, museum or organization knows how important volunteers are. “Our volunteers keep us going,” says Spring Hill Historic Home Collections Manager Alyssa Arciello. “They help with everything from trash clean up, to running errands, to giving words of encouragement.” Director, Rick Finch of Fort Meigs also values volunteers: “We could not put on the interpretive programs that we do without the help of historical interpretive, event and museum store volunteers. They are an integral part of our operation.”
Volunteers may be at your site for a number of reasons, but regardless of the role they play, it is very important to acknowledge their hard work. We all know a smile and a “thank you” at the end of the day can mean a lot, but there are many other ways to recognize the work that our volunteers put into our organizations. Here are four simple ways to show appreciation to volunteers:
1. Thank You notes – Express your appreciation writing.
We send handwritten thank you notes to our volunteers periodically throughout the year and after each event. It can take a while to do this, but we know taking a few moments to send a personal note is really appreciated by our volunteers.
–Spring Hill Historic Home
2. Appreciation dinners – Hold a get together just for volunteers.
Create a relaxed time where [you] share photos, highlights from the year and acknowledge any outstanding volunteers from the year.
– Spring Hill Historic Home & Fort Meigs
3. S.W.A.G. – Outfit your volunteers in organizational gear.
Get your volunteers decked out in your gear. The cost of a t-shirt or tote bag is worth the countless hours volunteers may put into your site.
– Spring Hill Historic Home
4. Bragging – Volunteers love to hear from others that you said they are a big help.
We regularly update the board of directors on volunteers and the contributions they have made to the site and encourage the board members to thank the volunteers when they see them.
– Fort Meigs
How do you recognize great volunteers?
Please share your stories in the comments.
Kate Smith is a Region 5 representative of the Ohio Local History Alliance and executive director of Spring Hill Historic Home in Massillon, Ohio.