AL!VE's Service Enterprise Celebrates GVM2024

AL!VE's Service Enterprise Program Celebrates Global Volunteer Month with the Fast Five List!

Throughout April, we will share ways for you to show your appreciation for the time, talents, skills, and lived experiences that volunteers bring to organizations. We know it is a busy month for many amazing volunteer engagement professionals, so don't feel like you need to take on all of these at once. Still, we challenge you to try a few and keep what works for you, your organization, and your volunteers.

Always remember that the best way to show your appreciation is in a meaningful way to the receiver. Through our Service Enterprise Program, we know there is no single "right way" to appreciate volunteers. Remember that it is okay to ask your volunteers how they want to be recognized and continue to make small changes based on their feedback until you get it right.

For more Volunteer Recognition Resources, look in the AL!VE Resource Pages under 'Cultivation and Stewardship'

Practice Thankful Thursdays 

Take 5 minutes to reflect on the week and send a note (email, card, or even a post-it) to a volunteer thanking them for their actions, how they made you feel, or the impact on the organization. This practice will not only help you say thank you to volunteers regularly but can also impact your mood now and overall mental health. 

PRO TIP: Put it on your calendar to hold yourself accountable until it becomes a habit. If Thursdays don't work for you, select a better day. 

Take it Beyond the Volunteer Engagement Professionals: 

  • Once you have mastered it, don't keep it to yourself. Share your practice for appreciating volunteers with others at your organization during a staff meeting or training about engaging volunteers. By doing so, you'll not only spread positivity but also encourage a culture of gratitude and recognition. 

  • Engage lead volunteers and individuals who supervise volunteers to help spread appreciation. Make sure they have the information and resources to do so easily. 

  • For more Volunteer Recognition Resources, look in the AL!VE Resource Pages under 'Cultivation and Stewardship'

Ask How You Can Help Them Stay! 

You don’t have to conduct a full formal Stay Interview to let a volunteer know that you appreciate them and want them to stay, and you don’t want to wait until they turn in their notice. A little can go a long way; proactively take 5 minutes to tell your best volunteers that you value them and want to do what you can to help them stay engaged with the organization. This simple question can reduce volunteer burnout and help determine how the organization must adapt to keep great volunteers proactively. 

Pro Tip: Prioritize time monthly to list a few volunteers you would like to connect with and seek them out. You can serve alongside them for a few minutes and chat, ask them to swing by your office, or text/call them. 

Take it Beyond the Volunteer Engagement Professionals: 

  • Help your volunteer supervisors determine who they want to reach out to. 

  • Share feedback, adjust opportunities as you can, and/or find an alternative way for the volunteer(s) to serve that fits their current needs, interests, abilities, etc. 

  • Consider creating a Stay Interview process for your organization at a volunteer’s anniversary with the organization. 

Develegate & Grow Volunteers into Leaders 

This may not be a universal appreciation method. Some volunteers may not want to grow in the skillsthe role offers; they may be perfectly content with their current role. However, for those who want to do more to help deliver the mission, this is a great way to do so. 

Develegating is when you go beyond delegation and do more than hand off a project or task. You take time to delegate developmentally. When you develegate, you invest time with someone to coach them, guide them, build them up, and encourage them to grow. 

PRO TIP: This will likely takemore time than traditional delegation, so schedule accordingly. However, your return on investment will be there when they grow and take on even more impactful roles. 

Take it Beyond the Volunteer Engagement Professionals: 

  • Encourage and help yourlead and tenured volunteers embrace develegation as a strategy for succession efforts and scaling up your work. 

  • Work with individuals who have strong relationships with key volunteers to explore how they can leverage the concept of develegation to engage volunteers more in their work. 

Use a Loaded Appreciation Statement 

It tends to have less effect after you hear a generic thanks or we appreciate you often. A loaded appreciation statement doesn’t lose its effect because it lets volunteers know their efforts are seen and helps remind them how their work helps move the mission forward. 

The format is simple: Thank you for [insert what they did/do] it [what/who does it help and why/how]. Because of you, we [insert the impact on the organization/program/community]. 


Thank you for putting together all the new client packets. It gives me an extra hour a week to work directly with clients, and because of you, we can often provide 8 additional client sessions. 

Thank you for leading our effort to establish our Annual Marketing and Communications Plan. This plan will help us stay on topic throughout the year and meet our engagement goals. Your skilled support will also help us better engage with our donors throughout the year to make the campaign season more successful. 

Pro Tip: Challenge yourself to use one Loaded Appreciation Statement for every five times you thank volunteers until it becomes comfortable and is second nature. This will help volunteers know they are seen and confirm they make a difference. Bonus: staff and volunteers get reminded of the mission impact that volunteers and the roles they fill have. 

Take it Beyond the Volunteer Engagement Professionals: 

  • Use loaded appreciation statements when recognizing staff and lead volunteers for engaging volunteers in their work. 

  • Help the organization, program leaders, and volunteer supervisors/collaborators consider what some Loaded Appreciation Statements could be. 

Track & Report the Value Volunteers Contribute 

You don’t need to publish a Volunteer Program Annual Report to get noticeof volunteers' impact on your organization. Still, untilyou intentionally capture and report the outputs and outcomes achieved due to volunteers' support, it may be hard for an organization to move from volunteers are nice to have to volunteers are necessary to deliver our mission.  

Start small with roles that are easier to capture the outputs and outcomes. Consider engaging volunteers to help report metrics. Skill-based volunteer roles can help you track, analyze, and report on the value that volunteers contribute in meaningful waysto different audiences. 

PRO TIP: Choose a role to focus on each week/month to determine what you need to track, how you might be able to track it, and how you can communicate the impact meaningfully to others. Remember: if this doesn’t play into your strengths, it is a great skills-based volunteer role(s). 

Take it Beyond the Volunteer Engagement Professionals: 

  • Create opportunitiesto share the Volunteer Value with staff and volunteers. 

  • Add volunteer contributions and your organization's investment in volunteer engagement efforts to grant applications and reports 

  • Share the volunteer value with marketing and resource development so they can demonstrate how your organization leverages the skills and talents of volunteers to expand your budget. Our Service Enterprise-accredited organizations often see a $3 - $6 return on investment in strategic volunteer engagement. 

We will continue to reveal the list with hyperlinks, pro tips, and ideas for taking it beyond the volunteer engagement professionals and department!

For more details about the listed topics and how you can help your organization achieve national accreditation in Strategic Volunteer Engagement through AL!VE's Service Enterprise program, contact Kayla Paulson, our National Service Enterprise Administrator, at