Embracing Volunteer Day: 4 Creative Ideas for Non-Profit Organisations
Charity and non-profit organisations

Embracing Volunteer Day: 4 Creative Ideas for Non-Profit Organisations

Discover ideas for celebrating International Volunteer Day with your group of supporters and further boost their morale and engagement with your non-profit.

International Volunteer Day has been celebrated on the 5th of December since 1985 and it’s always been coordinated by the United Nations Volunteers Programme. The idea behind this special day is to honour and applaud the contributions made by volunteers and volunteer organisations worldwide, as well as celebrate their accomplishments. It’s also a perfect opportunity for charities to thank, appreciate, and recognise their volunteers and encourage the public to participate in their projects. In this blog post, we take a look at four creative ideas for non-profit organisations to celebrate International Volunteer Day! Read on. 

1. International Volunteer Day: Organise a volunteer appreciation event

Let’s start by stating the obvious: volunteers are an irreplaceable element of non-profit organisations. They dedicate their time and energy to helping others, creating a lasting impact on many people’s lives. Although most volunteers don’t expect recognition, International Volunteer Day is an ideal moment to express your gratitude towards all the dedicated volunteers who support your charity’s work and projects. A special event created to recognise your supportive team can foster a sense of belonging and have a great influence on volunteer morale and retention. 

A popular idea is to host a casual get-together for all your volunteers where everyone gets to chat, laugh, and look at the accomplishments of the charity. We’re talking casual lunch, cake party, or you may want to go all out and throw a themed party. Top up the experience by organising raffles with small prizes, contests, and quizzes. Remember, it’s all about organising a day where your volunteers get to enjoy themselves. The more festive atmosphere, the more your team will feel valued and appreciated. 

➡️ Looking for ideas for other events? We have tips for Giving Tuesday and World NGO Day!

2. Share volunteer stories and impact to give recognition to your team of vital supporters

Non-profit organisations have the difficult task of conveying their message in a way that sparks emotion within their audience. This is the cheapest and most effective way to drive new donors, as well as volunteers, to your organisation. Storytelling happens to have the ability to captivate an audience but also to convey the genuine impact of volunteer work. Here’s why it’s essential for non-profits to harness this power right in time for International Volunteer Day:

  • Emotional connection: stories have a unique ability to evoke emotions, making the audience emphasise the experiences of the storyteller. When volunteers share their personal stories, the audience feels sympathy and identifies with the motivations, challenges, and accomplishments of volunteers.
  • Share impact: use storytelling to illustrate the difference your volunteers make in the lives of individuals and communities. Real testimonials help describe how volunteer collaboration transforms situations and brings about positive change.
  • Inspiration and motivation: personal experiences and accomplishments shared by your volunteers may motivate others to join the cause, knowing that they can have a meaningful impact too, turning passive observers into active participants. 


But what is the best way to collect this kind of stories from your volunteers? 

Let them in on how much of an impact a testimonial can have on the audience. Apart from collecting valuable content for your communications, you make your volunteers feel valued and recognised. We recommend you collect personal testimonials throughout the whole year so that you have plenty of content, as well as regular check-ins with your volunteers. Once you’re ready to share the stories right in time for International Volunteer Day, take your content and the impact created by their work to your social media, newsletter, website, and other channels to stay in touch with your audience. Remember that there’s nothing more powerful than social proof.  

3. Host skill development workshops for your non-profit’s volunteers

It’s important to remember that volunteers dedicate their time to help your non-profit’s mission and projects. While they receive no monetary compensation, there are other ways to compensate for their time and dedication. 

A great idea would be to give back to volunteers by offering them opportunities for skill development. For example, you can organise workshops or training sessions relevant to their interests or fields of expertise since skilled volunteers can significantly improve the efficiency of and impact of your organisation’s efforts. Bear in mind that investing in the skill development of volunteers goes beyond just enhancing their individual capabilities and getting them more engaged with the organisation. Satisfied volunteers are more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth, attracting more volunteers and supporters to your organisation. 


4. Implement a volunteer recognition program

If you haven’t done so yet, implement a volunteer recognition to celebrate International Volunteer Day this year. Recognising the invaluable contributions of volunteers is a fundamental aspect of fostering a positive and motivated volunteer community. A structured volunteer recognition program goes beyond sporadic expressions of gratitude and allows you to celebrate the volunteers’ commitment, achievements, and the impact they make within your non-profit. 

What are the benefits of regular volunteer recognition?

  • Boosted motivation: regularly recognise your volunteers to make them feel valued and appreciated. Sustained motivation contributes to higher engagement and enthusiasm, encouraging volunteers to continue giving their time. 
  • Building a positive culture: consistently acknowledging volunteers’ efforts fosters a positive and supportive environment. 
  • Increased satisfaction and retention: volunteers who feel valued and recognised are more satisfied with their volunteer experience. This translates into a more enjoyable and fulfilling engagement, reducing the likelihood of burnout and turnover. 

Different recognition methods:

  1. Certificates of appreciation: provide volunteers with personalised certificates highlighting their contributions.
  2. Badges and pins: present volunteers with wearable symbols of recognition.
  3. Volunteer of the month and year awards: establish a formal recognition system, selecting outstanding volunteers on a monthly or yearly basis. Make sure to feature the award winners on your website, in newsletters, and through social media platforms. 
  4. Personalised thank-you notes: take the time to write heartfelt notes that specifically mention the volunteers’ contributions. Personalisation adds a human touch, showing volunteers that their efforts are appreciated and valued. 


We hope that you now understand the importance of celebrating International Volunteer Day and have found some inspiring ideas for this special day. It’s a great opportunity to touch base with your volunteers and audience and apart from fostering a sense of community and belonging you also get to generate powerful content for your social media and other communications channels. 

Do you have other ideas that should be considered for International Volunteer Day? Get in touch with us!

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