Thanking Your Volunteers
Updated: Apr 9
Good volunteers are like fine wine: they are a comfort to have, and they help prevent coronary artery disease. And also like fine wine, good volunteers are hard to find, so when you do find helpers who are competent, kind, and willing to go the extra mile for the event, YOU WANT TO INVEST IN THEM.
That’s why, when the event is done, you’ll want to sincerely thank your volunteers and make them feel seen and appreciated. Here are some ways you can make those volunteers really feel special:
Writing a sincere, personalized letter of gratitude for each volunteer on aged paper and tied in a scroll is a big hit. In fact, a hand-written thank you note is pretty unusual these days, so it will have an impact. Remember to follow the KISS method: Keep It Sincere and Specific. Don’t just say, “You always do a great job. Thanks, Molly.” Try, “I appreciate how you make sure the tables are spaced evenly and wash all the tablecloths after the event. You really have an eye for detail, Molly, and you are generous with your time, even after the event. I don’t know what I would do without you.” Think of a quality that you like about them, why that quality is valuable, and put it to ink! Trust me, personalization means a lot.
At the cast party, take ten minutes for an awards ceremony for your VIP volunteers. Print out certificates and recognize your volunteers’ best work. This can either be genuine, such as: “The Jack of all Trades award goes to Stacy for heading up almost everything from costumes to kitchen! Thank you, Stacy!” Or, you can do something humorous, with inside jokes (think The Dundie Awards from The Office). For example: “The Knight and Day award goes to Derek, who literally changed from savage Viking to knight in shining armor whenever you gave him a Red Bull.”
Also like an inside joke, this gift is sentimental and lets the volunteer know that they were part of the production. For instance, when we did Sam Shovel: The Long Walk Goodbye, there’s a running gag about Dr. Ethanol’s Vegetonic. After the show, we got little bottles of bourbon and made labels for Dr. Ethanol’s Vegetonic to put on them and gave them to our actors and crew (everyone was over 21!). They all thought it was a riot. For your madrigal dinner, perhaps you can give out wassail kits or coin purses with chocolate coins as a thank you.
Bottom line: don’t let those special volunteers get away without knowing how much you appreciate them. Because if you take them for granted, you’ll lose your fine wine and be left whining.