Best Volunteer Appreciation Gift Ideas 2020

May 25, 2020

Many organizations, primarily non-profit, largely depend on their volunteers. Volunteers are people who participate in events that will not give them any physical or financial benefits. Event planners and organizational leaders should think of giving thanks and appreciation to their volunteers. Not all people volunteer at their own will; Gifting volunteers is one of the ways to appreciating them for what they do. 

Non-profit organizations are known for doing weekly or monthly volunteer work in different communities. They make time to do medical missions, feeding programs, outreach programs, relief operations, and many others. Volunteers do this type of work on their own will without asking anything in return. However, as an event organizer or organization leader, you should take time to give gifts for volunteer appreciation

Tokens of appreciation and recognition will go a long way for your volunteers. Most volunteers do this type of work to help people who are in need. Small but great gifts for volunteer appreciation is something that will surely warm their hearts. Aside from touching their emotions, gifting volunteers can also motivate them to continue doing their hard work. 

Customized volunteer gifts, as well as creative volunteer appreciation gifts, are easily made and done. What you want in DIY volunteer appreciation gifts is that the volunteers can feel your sentiment with it. Leaders should also take to consider how these gifts for volunteer appreciation will impact their work ethic and dedication. There are very many useful and creative volunteer appreciation gifts that you can think of. Along with these gifts are the reasons why you should take time and think of volunteer appreciation ideas. 

Why give them appreciation gifts?

As a volunteer leader or events planner, you should know the two principal reasons why you should give gifts for volunteer appreciation. 

Emotional reasons

One of the critical reasons for giving gifts for volunteers is for moral and emotional purposes. By simply reciprocating the volunteer’s helpful actions, they will be grateful to you even though it is just a small token of gratitude. Another emotional impact of giving gifts is that they will feel that you are thankful to them. Thanking others will make them feel good and expect more in life that many good things will come. Giving volunteer appreciation gifts will also let them know that they are very needed by the organization. Volunteers will feel that the organization can’t run without their generous help. 

Strategic reasons

As a volunteer leader, you must know the strategic reasons for giving volunteer appreciation gifts. One important reason is that it gives volunteers a boost in productivity and increased motivation in work. Giving tokens of appreciation will help build camaraderie within the volunteer team and non-profit organization. This type of recognition will have a positive impact on the mood and morale of the volunteer and the whole team. Volunteers who have also worked for a very long time deserve to get a separate recognition of their own. Physical rewards that will honor their years of hard work is something that will surely be remembered by your veteran volunteers. 

What are some Appreciation Gift Ideas? 

As a volunteer leader or events manager, you should have various creative volunteer appreciation gift ideas—a token of appreciation given while only spending enough is a win-win situation for you. You can give thanks to the volunteer’s hard work, while alone spending a little money. Here are some low-cost gifts that you may consider.

Public Appreciation

One of the best things you can do as a volunteer leader is to appreciate your volunteers publicly. There are various ways or something that you can do for you to lift their spirits and present their works. Here are a few of the things you can do to show your public appreciation. 

1. Social Media Posts

You can write a personalized post about your organization’s Facebook or any social media account. Especially for the most hard-working volunteer of the month or the whole year, dedicate a social media post for them and pin it on the organization’s social media page. Also, share it with other pages that connect with us and let them know the volunteer’s achievements. 

2. Thank You Boards             

Make a bulletin board or corkboard that recognizes the efforts of the volunteers. Decorate the board with things that interest your volunteers and everyone on the team. Write thank you messages that appreciate their hard work. Also, allow the other members of the team to write on the board so they will know the feeling that they feel for their team.

3. Recognition Ceremony          

During or after an event by your non-profit organization, you can reserve a part of the event to recognize the volunteer’s work. Give a certificate as a proof of their work's recognition during the happening and a photo for commemoration. Say a heart-warming message that is complimenting their work and how they are an essential part of the event. 

4. Volunteer of the Month            

When you are sending e-mails about an event, focus on the best volunteer that you have for the whole month or whole year. Check who will receive your e-mail before sending them to avoid any confusion with your other connections. Write the things that make them an essential asset of the company in the e-mail. 

5. Reserve Parking Spots               

If the building of your organization’s office has parking slots available, assign specific parking slots that are only available to the volunteers. Reserving parking spots is some sort of a thoughtful way of making them feel important to the organization. Even though this may not seem relevant, it is a subtle way of making the volunteers feel at home and connected with the organization and the leaders.  

6. Make Appreciation Banners               

A surprise banner that celebrates the work of the volunteers after a tiring event is another volunteer appreciation gift you can make. Do this every month and hang the banner in front of the building or of the meeting place. Also, make a banner every time the organization does an event.  

Do-It-Yourself Appreciation Gifts       

If you only want to spend a little but still give appreciation gifts, you can make your own personalized and customized items. These items are more personal and much appreciated by the volunteers. They will think that you are being thoughtful since you made those gifts. 

1. DIY Lantern               

This type of gift is popular with people that love to work at night and in quiet places. Buy a transparent jar and a glow-in-the-dark paint. Decorate the pot with the glow-in-the-dark paint so that it turns into a self-lit lantern that the volunteers can enjoy in their homes. 

2. Handwritten Cards             

Handwritten letters or cards that are personally made are very much appreciated, especially when given after an event. A thankful but straightforward message dedicated to them will surely be understood. This is already a considerable gift, especially for volunteers who only want to help others, and this is a simple way of reciprocity. 

3. Video Message

Create a video message thanking your volunteers while singing or other forms of the presentation showing your gratitude. Cooperate with the other members of your organization and dedicate your time to your hard-working volunteers. Post this video on the social media page of the organization for everyone to see it. You could also attach this video message to the e-mail you will send to everyone on your organization.  

4. Photographs

Keep the pictures that you take during the event while volunteers are working. This can serve as a good memory and will be highly appreciated by the volunteer team. Frame these pictures and give them to the volunteers as a memorable gift—an excellent way to commemorate the event, and the memories that took place on that day.  


If the volunteers on your organization read books as a hobby, you can create custom bookmarks. You can also add inspiring quotes on the design of the bookmark to motivate them. Decorate the bookmark with a ribbon for easier usage. These are used frequently, especially for people who spend time reading books. 

6. Kudos cards

These types of cards are made to give a small appreciation to a volunteer to cheer them up even just for a bit. It contains a thumbs up mark, a smiley face, or anything that can try to lighten up the volunteer’s day. Also, try writing a one-line compliment that they can easily read. This is like a small reward but has a deeper meaning into it.  

7. Thank You Box

After the event, set out a box with small pieces of paper or index cards to the attendees. Have them pick one or two papers or cards with a volunteer’s name on it. Make them write a simple thank you or compliment message.  

Affordable Gift Items

Non-profit organizations that have a smaller number of employees can gift small but appreciated items. Here are simple, but quality items that you can afford that will make the volunteers happy. These ideas are perfect if the organization has a small number of volunteers. 

1. Personalized Item with First Letter of your Name             

Tote bags, necklaces, or cups with the first letter or word of your name are creative volunteer appreciation gifts. If you have a corporate sponsor that wants to promote their product, the better. You can customize these items on your own or let your corporate sponsor do it. 

2. Lanyards

A more general gift item that you can think of is a lanyard. You can order an ID lanyard from your known seller or have a sponsor for that gift item. Add the organization’s logo as a design on the lanyard to make it more connected to the volunteers. 

3. T-shirts

One of the most popular gifts for volunteer appreciation is a t-shirt. It can be easily bought and customized, so it is one of the best ways to show your thanks. Buy the same color shirts and add the organization’s name on it or logo. This will help them be more motivated in their work and be more connected to the organization.

4. Volunteering Supplies

Modern Dopp Kit, Speckled Enamel Mug, Custom Jersey Blanket with Tag, and Raaka Chocolate Bar
Modern Dopp Kit, Insulated Camp Mug, Sweatshirt Blanket, and Hammond’s Chocolate Bar

For a more useful type of appreciation gift, you can think of buying supplies that volunteers use on their work. Examples of these items include a kit full of organizational items, drinking mug, blankets, chocolate bar, snacks, and many more. This will be very helpful to their work, and they will be very grateful to you as you are to them.

5. Travel Bag               

Stain Rescue Wipes, Unisex Dad Cap, and EO Hand Sanitizer
Stain Rescue Wipes, Unisex Dad Cap, and EO Hand Sanitizer

If your non-profit organizations hold fund-raising events or outreach programs in far-away places, a good gift idea is a travel bag. Travel bags are very useful, especially for events that are done in remote areas and will last for a few days. You can also include a few toiletry items like wipes, hat for heat protection, and a hand sanitizer. You can also put a simple handwritten letter to lighten up their mood before an event.   

6. Seasonal Items

Slack Scent Basik Candle, Sweatshirt Blanket, and United by Blue Wool Winter Gloves
‍P&F Large Candle, Sweatshirt Blanket, and Custom Dad Cap

Volunteer work during the summer or winter season is common, especially in provinces that are a common thing. Medical missions during the summertime are specially done to faraway houses in the provinces. During these times, you can think of items that can ease the burden caused by the heat of the summer or coldness during the winter season. Items such as scented candles, blankets, hats, winter gloves and other clothing items are some of the things that you can give for the volunteers to survive the seasons. 

7. Spa Swag Bag

Luxury items such as scented candles, bath salts, and tea packets are famous as useful volunteer appreciation gifts. They are handy to volunteers, especially after a long day’s work, and they want to relax at their home. 

8. Staycation Swag Bag

Alternative Eco Shirt, Alternative Joggers, Terracotta Grow Kit, and Peet Rivko Moisturizer
Alternative Eco Shirt, Alternative Joggers, Terracotta Grow Kit, and Peet Rivko Moisturizer

Another useful volunteer appreciation gift idea is giving them a staycation swag bag. These contain soft slippers, comfortable socks, and an aromatic candle. Pack one of these types of gifts, and the volunteers will surely have a good time even though they are away

from their homes. Other items that may be included in the staycation swag bag are a comfortable shirt and pajamas, an artificial plant for design, and facial care products.

9. Funny Signs

Find wooden boards that can be painted on with letters. Customize it and write a slogan or a funny quote that can lift the mood of the volunteers once they read it. Witty slogans will surely create a light atmosphere within the event.  

Low-Cost Gatherings

Aside from DIY items and public appreciation, you can also hold parties to give thanks and celebrate the work the volunteers have done. These events can be simply done at the organization’s office or after holding an event. 

1. Early Morning Surprise           

If you are holding an event early in the morning, take advantage of it and prepare food for breakfast and give them the motivation to start the day. Morning events may be hard for the volunteers since they are not used to it so that early thanks may boost their motivation. A small breakfast buffet may suffice if you have a moderate number of volunteers who are part of the event.

2. Giving cheers

Just like at a wedding, call the volunteers that you want to praise and let them sit at the center. Take turns in giving that person a compliment or appreciation message as a tribute to that volunteer’s efforts. Do this regularly to maintain the positivity that your volunteers are feeling throughout their volunteer experience. 

3. Potluck lunch or dinner              

During your free days, call other staff members of the organization aside from the volunteers and assign foods to bring during a potluck lunch or dinner. This will serve as an appreciation party for the volunteers and maintain the rapport between the volunteers and other members of the organization. You can also try to ask a sponsorship from a company that supports the organization’s goals. This is a good time to catch up with the personal lives of other volunteers and stay connected to them. 

4. Meet and Greet          

If there is a celebrity that supports the goodwill of your non-profit organization, you can try to ask them for their time. Ask the star to come to one of the volunteering events to surprise the volunteers on that day. You can also invite them to one of the company’s meetings and get them to meet the celebrity. This will surely wipe the tiredness of the volunteers, even just for a while.               

5. Volunteer Olympics                

As the leader of a growing organization of volunteers, you can try to build the teamwork of the volunteers through sports. Find a sport that the volunteers have a common interest in and hold an event about it.  

6. Talent Show                

A way of relieving the stress away from the volunteers is through holding a talent show during the event. Ask the help of some of the volunteers who are willing to show their talents to entertain the other volunteers and other attendees. This is also a time for the other volunteers to demonstrate their expertise to others. 

7. Babysitting Break                

This kind of event is specially made to cater to volunteers who have babies to take care of. A free night from babysitting is something that most parents wish since it is very tiring. Ask help from high schoolers or baby sitters who are willing to do this gig to help the volunteers focus on relaxing. 

8. Fun Awards Show               

A little bit of fun now and then is not bad. Give unusual certificates or awards, such as most likely to run a marathon or most likely to become the president, are some of the awards that you can think of. Give these certificates after finishing an event and do a surprise roll call to lighten up the mood. 

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