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Celebrating International Volunteer Day! (21st Nov 2016)

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International Volunteer Day is a global day that takes place every year on 5th December. It gives us a chance to recognise, thank and celebrate volunteers across the world. Over 1 million people in Ireland volunteer. They are the backbone of the community and voluntary sector and they underpin so much great work being done across the country. Simply put – we’d be lost without volunteers! But how often do we show them how important they are?

International Volunteer Day is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to your volunteers and show them that they are an important part of your work. We’ve put together some tips on how you can show your appreciation on 5th December.

  • Say ‘thank you’. It may seem like an obvious one but how often do we actually say thank you to our volunteers? Remember to tell them when they’ve done a good job. IVD is the perfect time to give them a thank you card and remind them how important they are to the organisation.
  • Have a volunteer appreciation event. You don’t need a big budget to throw a party. Maybe have a coffee morning in the canteen and ask staff to make some treats. No matter how big or small, volunteers will appreciate the effort.
  • Show them the impact they have. Maybe you answered 20 more calls this year or held a major event that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of volunteers. They are volunteering because they are passionate about your organisation. They want to know that their time and effort is having a real impact.
  • Shout about your volunteers. Make sure you mention your volunteers when you’re promoting your work. Maybe profile a volunteer on social media or ask the local paper to write an article.
  • Give service gifts or certificates. Recognise longevity with a small gift or thank you certificate. It doesn’t need to be overly formal but it will be appreciated.
  • Offer volunteers training opportunities. Is there a free training course that you could send your volunteers on? Are staff undertaking training that may also benefit volunteers? Appreciating volunteers also means giving them a chance to grow and develop their skills.
  • Keep it simple. Thanking volunteers is important but it shouldn’t be an arduous task. There are so many inspiring quotes on volunteering – why not print some out and stick them on notice boards around the office? Maybe someone in the office is good with words and could write a poem about your volunteers? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

The work that we all do would be so much more difficult, in some cases impossible, without volunteers. International Volunteer Day gives us a chance to say thank you and show volunteers how much they are appreciated. It may just be a small effort on our part but it could make all the difference to a volunteer!

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