1. Pick a Day and Time
National Volunteer Week takes place April 23-29, 2017, in both the United States and Canada, so consider hosting your event during that week. When picking a date and time, consider your volunteers’ schedules. Can they attend an event in the middle of the day, or is the evening better? If you are unsure, contact a few and take a quick poll.

2. Choose a Theme
This is a must-have for any celebration because it helps tie everything together. Remember to incorporate all ages and genders to make it an inclusive event for anybody who might attend. For this year’s National Volunteer Week, Points of Light is advancing the theme of “Service Unites” – centering on the ideas that volunteerism brings people together to tackle tough challenges, create change, and build stronger, more vibrant communities. 

3. Set a Budget
Saying thank you doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it’s important to determine how much you want to spend on your event. Brainstorm your biggest expense (ex: location, food). Consider whether you will need technology, like a microphone or sound system, or if you’ll want to hire a photographer or videographer. If you have a limited budget, prioritize based on what you think will make the biggest impact. You may also be able to find a venue that will let you use the space for free, or local restaurants willing to donate food.

4. Invite Volunteers and Supporters
Once you’ve set your budget, set your guest list. Get your team together to brainstorm which volunteers you’d like to recognize. Consider also inviting any supporters, external partners or community members who have benefited from your volunteers’ efforts.

5. Promote the Event
People need to know about the event! There are several ways to do this: social media is a great tool, along with email and word of mouth. Check out the National Volunteer Week marketing toolkit for logos, banner templates, sample messages and social media graphics.

6. Activities
Every celebration is centered on a main event, but may include smaller ones throughout the day or evening. For example, you could create an #ivolunteer photo booth to encourage attendees to share what service means to them. Points of Light will be providing a downloadable #ivolunteer signboard for National Volunteer Week (available 4/13 in the marketing toolkit); your attendees can fill out the signboards and take photos to share on social media using #ivolunteer and #NVW. This is an easy (and free) way to engage people during your event.

7. Gifts
If you want to show your appreciation with more than just words, consider giving your volunteers small gifts – something simple and meaningful to remind them that they matter to your organization. Here are a few quick ideas from Nevada Volunteers:

  • Candle: present a candle with a card saying, “You light the way.” or “No one can hold a candle to you.” or “Thanks for your glowing enthusiasm.”
  • 100 Grand candy bars: “Volunteers are priceless.”
  • Chocolate gold coins: “Volunteers are worth their weight in gold.”
  • Hat with your organization’s logo: “Our hats are off to you! Thanks for all you do!”
  • Plant: “We grow luckier every day you’re with us.”

8. Share on Social Media
During or after the celebration, consider sharing pictures or video featuring your volunteers. This is a great way to publically thank them and raise the profile of their work. You can tap into the national conversation around National Volunteer Week using #nvw, #ivolunteer and #serviceunites.

This article was originally published on Points of Light and appears here with permission.


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