If you provide free tax help, the end of the tax season is a chance to catch up on work, compile reports, and — of course — celebrate your volunteers. You don’t need a large budget to let volunteers know how valuable they are. Taking time to recognize volunteers makes them feel appreciated, which may bring them back for the next tax season — perhaps with a few friends!
Whether you’ve already held a celebration dinner or you are in the planning stage for your event, here are five ways you can show volunteers you appreciate them.
1. Engage local businesses
Businesses can help sponsor an event or provide special coupons, discounts, or prizes for a raffle. Local businesses receive positive exposure while adding value to the volunteer experience.
2. Give a small present
You can give a small token of appreciation even if your organization doesn’t have a lot of money. Think beyond t-shirts, mugs, and key chains. Bookmarks (which can be designed and printed in-house), packages of garden seeds, candles, or even packs of Lifesavers candy can make a simple and fun gift. Include a nice note: a note for the seeds could say “Thank you for helping our program grow;” for the candles, “Thanks to you, this was a shining tax season;” and for the Lifesavers, “You were a life saver this tax season.”
3. Tell the world about your volunteers
Invite volunteers to be profiled on your website or social media. You can post their picture and share their background, interest in free tax preparation, and why they love volunteering. If you have too many volunteers to feature each one, write a blog post about the group and the collective contribution they’ve made to your organization and community.
You can also have an article printed in a local newspaper, arrange news coverage of your appreciation event, or participate in a radio interview along with a volunteer who can share their story.
4. Offer career or professional support
You can offer to review resumes, serve as a job reference, or write letters of recommendation. This is invaluable, especially for volunteers with limited work experience. If you are concerned about receiving too many requests, limit the offer to a certain number of volunteers.
5. Stay in touch
Long after tax season is over, let volunteers know you are still thinking about them. Use a system like birthday alarm to keep track of birthdays and to send electronic cards. You can also send thoughtful messages for holidays or just because (e.g. “Hope you are having a great summer!”). If you think you might forget, use a service like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, or Letter Me Later to schedule messages for future delivery.
How do you appreciate your volunteers? Share your ideas.