3 Easy Ways to Build Relationships with Your Volunteers

The year-end may be over, but the craze doesn’t stop there. Anyone involved with the nonprofit sector is already thinking of ways to reconnect with donors and preparing for the next big giving season.

In the midst of all the planning craze, it’s easy to forget the volunteers that provide vital services and bring passion to your organization. Here are three ways you can show volunteers that you’ve noticed how hard they’re working.

For starters, one of the easiest ways you can create relationships with your volunteers is by being present, watching their work and by literally telling them your appreciation on the spot. This is especially rewarding when it comes from the Executive Director of your organization, or someone else who is often busy with upper-level operations.

Once a week, make it a habit to drop by the different areas where your volunteers are working and make a quick comment about the importance of their contributions and the appreciation you have for them.

Don’t confuse this with micromanaging. The purpose of a stop like this isn’t to critique their work or give suggestions — that should be done behind closed doors. Instead, knowing that someone is nearby and expecting excellent work can help boost motivation, and being personally appreciated for work can help boost morale.

If you want to get fancy, consider holding an awards ceremony or incorporating a volunteer appreciation segment in your next company celebration or conference. This could highlight the many projects and improvements thanks to your volunteers, and you could even award a Volunteer of the Year.

However, I would recommend keeping this separate from the lunch social previously mentioned. Use the first to get to know your volunteers, and use the latter to show them off to the rest your nonprofit.


Food is undeniably one of the easiest and most well-accepted ways to celebrate an occasion. Here at the Hub, we love to put together family potluck lunches or cater in from our favorite local restaurants to treat our members to a family meal.

Whether you choose to cook or order in, host a lunch social where you can feed your volunteers with food and compliments.

It’s a really simple way to get most of your volunteers together in one place and to show them how important they are to your organization’s family.

This is also a good time to show more interest in your volunteers and get to know them on a personal level. Reflect on the work they’ve done this year and ask for feedback on what changes or opportunities they’d like to see in the future.


There are so many great tips on how to write a “thank you” to donors, especially during this time of the year when donations just flooded the sector. Cultivating donors after the year-end is vital to keeping them around.

These provide great templates for thanking volunteers, as well. Take some of these tips and personalize a “thank you” for volunteers.

Most noticeably, hand-written notes have a much more personal touch than a typed-out and repurposed letter. Also, make sure to focus the note on the volunteer and their valued contributions, not on your organization. This is an opportunity to be specific with each volunteer and to let them know their hard work is not overlooked.


Hopefully, these methods are not new to you. They are certainly timeless, and this is just a friendly reminder not to procrastinate. The tactics are easy to implement and will show volunteers that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Make your volunteers a priority.

So how are you showing you cultivating relationships with your volunteers?

build relationships with your volunteers

Randy Hawthorne

As the former Executive Director and Editor for Nonprofit Hub and a Professional Certified Marketer, Randy shares his passions of marketing and education with nonprofits to help them implement marketing and organizational leadership principles so they can grow their organizations. Randy lends his marketing and organizational leadership expertise to a number of nonprofits in his community. Outside the office, Randy works with high school and college students and mentors young professionals to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

January 20, 2016

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