State & Local Programs

March 2011 Big Question

What are some simple, low- or no-cost ways that you recognize volunteers individually?*

  • During National Volunteer Week, we send a letter to the volunteer’s employer, thanking them for their support. Great for retention and also occasionally ends up in the company newsletter and helps with recruitment.
  • Simply tell them "thank you" face-to-face, individually.
  • Sending a personal email to the volunteer expressing your thankfulness and adding personal touches.
  • Appreciation award printed yourself.
  • Send the volunteer a thank you card after they attend their child's court hearing.
  • After successfully completing a case, a hand-written note is sent by the executive director with a $5 gift card to someplace for a special treat on us—Starbucks, Juice Stop, Movie, Ice Cream. Through relationships we know what the volunteer’s preference would be and send from that place.
  • When volunteers are appointed to a new case they receive a hand-written note from a board member thanking them.
  • As part of our board members' job description, they agree to call/write a thank you to volunteers. Board members and current volunteers also attend swearing-in ceremonies to recognize new volunteer’s commitment.
  • We feature an interview with a volunteer in each newsletter. Also send birthday cards to volunteers.
  • A call from a CASA board member.
  • I make cards congratulating my volunteers when they have done a good job, and I give them a gift certificate to have a cup of coffee on me. I give them small treats at the holiday times.
  • Sending a handwritten note to the volunteer.
  • Sending hand-signed birthday cards, thanks you notes, get well and bereavement cards.
  • Kudos in bi-monthly volunteer newsletter along with anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Nomination for county commissioner's Community Volunteer Awards.
  • I use an online program (www.sendoutcards.com/luther) where I can go to the website, pick a greeting card, type a message of thanks (or a birthday wish), and for less that $1, plus the stamp, they print, stuff, stamp and mail an actual greeting card in the mail. I have had a very good response from volunteers through utilizing this inexpensive, but yet meaningful way to tangibly say thank you! (Brant Luther, director, Stark County CASA/GAL Program).
  • Surprise volunteers with yard signs in their yard (in the middle of the night) that state "Someone who cares for abused and neglected kids lives here" or some other "Thank you" message.
  • Sending a thank you note to the volunteer's family member(s).
  • Free admission to a museum, botanical garden, etc., during National Volunteer Week.
  • Take turns "bragging" about each volunteer at staff meetings. This may also be a way of getting "slacking" volunteers to improve.
  • We send them a birthday card with a coupon for ice cream or hamburger in the card.
  • Directors should make it a point to call the volunteer to let them know they have heard how good of a job they are doing.
  • We send a Valentine's card signed with the names of every child the volunteer has advocated for.
  • We send emails to our board/volunteers listing/thanking everyone that turned in their hours each month. We list the top three hours and miles and we draw one winner from the group and they get to choose from a small donated prize. We have a board in our office featuring this information for all to see. We also do “CASA Hero of the Quarter.” They get a story, portrait and an award featuring art drawn by local children reflecting what their wish would be for abused and neglected children.
  • Send a note to the volunteer's family, thanking them for sharing their family member. Also, to their spiritual leader for inclusion in the organization’s bulletin; this may have the added bonus of attracting potential volunteers.
  • We have started a monthly newsletter. Each month there is an “Advocate Spotlight” section and it tells a little information about the advocate. It will highlight things they have said or was special they did on a case.
  • Many businesses donate gift cards to use in recognition. Find out something the volunteer needs—auto parts, building material, spa, gym membership, family outing, crafts, replace something they use when volunteering etc. (I've learned it is much more deeply appreciated.)
  • We have board members write personalized thank you notes to volunteers. Staff "coordinates" by giving each board member two or three names with email/snail mail addresses and a brief synopsis about the volunteer. Board members are not left out—CASA volunteers are asked to thank board members in the same fashion. There's just nothing like getting a personalized thank you from someone citing the good work you do as a CASA!

*There were so many good responses we decided to share them all - with one note from our regional program officers. Before making public recognitions (newspaper ads, yard signs, etc.), please inquire if volunteers prefer to keep a low profile in their community or remain anonymous. Thank you!

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