Thanks—Make It Memorable & Meaningful (Case Study)

I was truly moved last week when I stumbled on this wonderful hug-in-a-video created by ONE to thank volunteers during Volunteer Appreciation Week.  This fun but heartfelt four minutes quickly conveys how much the ONE folks value their volunteers. It’s an absolute winner.

“We got very positive feedback from our top vols (so much that we sent it to our high-action takers, offline action takers as well). It’s a [powerful] tactic that we’ve seen other orgs do really well,” says Garth Moore, ONE’s US Digital Director.


What I really respond to here (and I bet ONE’s volunteers did too) is the warmth and genuineness of the featured staff members.  The video opens up the organization to introduce the people behind the scenes. Putting your people  (beneficiaries, current supporters and more) in front of supporters and prospects is the clearest path you have to building long-term, loyal relationships—each one of us relates to other people first, causes and organizations later. In fact, it’s the faces/smiles/voices/gestures behind the thanks is what makes this video so meaningful and memorable.

I urge you to take a radical leap from the staid thank yous most of you are using to try something more personal and inventive. ONE’s approach is a great model for your organization’s thank yous—for your volunteers, but also for the other folks that help you move your mission forward—donors, program participants, staff, board members and probably others!

But don’t wait for next year’s volunteer appreciation week. Start right now with your own conversations (start with your own team), and by suggesting your team members start appreciation conversations whenever they have the chance.

I’ll guide you through building your appreciation campaign in a follow up post. Stay tuned!

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Nancy Schwartz on May 2, 2013 in Strategy | 5 comments
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  • Great post Nancy. Thanks for sharing this video. I hadn’t seen it.

    I love your point about not waiting until Volunteer Appreciation Week to thank your volunteers. It should happen all the time in a variety of ways. I think it can even come across as more genuine when it’s less expected.

    Making these volunteers feel appreciated year round can significantly help not only with retention, but also recruitment.

  • David, you’re so right on the recruitment front!

    Have any other examples of creative appreciation to share, from nonprofits or otherwise?

  • AJ

    This video is AWESOME!! This year for vol. appreciation week, I made an infographic ( for the volunteer faculty at the organization whose board I’m on. It was well-received and I think (and hope) made our amazing volunteers (who really DO make our organization run- it’s a mental health center for women that runs a 2-3 year intern training program and sees 200 clients per month and all training and non-administrative staff are volunteers) feel happy and appreciated. Next year, I think we’ll try a video thank you, particularly after seeing this inspiring one. Thanks for sharing this, Nancy!

  • Nancy Schwartz

    AJ, thanks for sharing the infographic. What was the volunteers’ response?

  • Pingback: November Nonprofit Blog Carnival | Giving Thanks and Gratitude - Pamela Grow | Pamela Grow()

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