13 Employee Recognition Ideas for Your Volunteer Program

No matter how big your budget or your volunteer corps is, employee recognition ideas must align with your company culture and values. Successful employee voluntary recognition programs are thoroughly planned and designed, well managed, clearly communicated, and frequently evaluated.

Providing incentives to employees can be as simple as writing thank you notes and as wide as planning a large-scale awards ceremony. Common elements of a successful recognition program include incorporating senior management support and participation, providing monetary funding to nonprofits of the awardee’s choice and aligning with special service days or corporate events.

Employee Recognition Ideas for Your Volunteer Program

Offer Modest Rewards to Incentivize Employees

1. If employees go to the office regularly or occasionally, reserve the main parking spot for Volunteer of the Month. Provide this time-saving convenience to volunteers or volunteer leaders who have served the most during a specified period of time or have crossed the line.

2. Produce a certificate or letter of appreciation signed by the CEO. Better yet, ask for a handwritten note from a senior leader thanking the volunteer or volunteer leader for their contribution.

3. During the volunteer project, observe who works hard and goes the extra mile, and offer them a reward on the spot such as a gift card for a cup of coffee or a pin they can proudly display. Consider what resonates most with the volunteers you work with.

4. Schedule a recurring virtual brown bag lunch with senior executives for your top volunteer leader.

5. Create a points system based on volunteer hours or other input and have volunteers convert their points into prizes such as company branded merchandise.

Showcase Employee Effort

6. Share stories and photos great volunteer internally and externally. Develop these stories regularly and use communication tools that will reach as many employees as possible (for example, the intranet, break room posters, e-newsletters, or company magazines).

7. Create a digital badge to add to the newly recognized volunteer leader’s email signature.

8. Highlight the best volunteers during leadership or all staff meetings, or at special company events. Post volunteer photos and profiles in high-traffic areas for employees and guests, such as your main lobby or in a bank elevator

9. Recognize the individual or team with the most volunteer hours worked during a given time period. Use different communication vehicles to list volunteers based on the number of hours served, number of projects participated, or number of projects led. That President’s Volunteer Service Award is a prestigious way to offer this type of recognition. Since 2003, it has honored individuals whose services positively impact communities in every corner of the nation and inspire those around them to take action too.

10. Integrate public recognition mechanisms into your strategy, eg Daily Point of Light Award or Jefferson Prize.

Go Big with Employee Recognition

11. Dollars for Doers and team volunteer grant programs (contribution programs that contribute grants to qualifying nonprofits based on employee/team engagement levels as volunteers or board members) offering individual or group financial incentives in the form of grants to organizations of their choice. Grants can vary from $100 to $25,000 per award. Create a formal application and judging process or crowdsource who to win a team volunteer grant from across your employee base.

12. Another idea is to host an annual lunch, dinner, or special event to highlight the work of top volunteers and volunteer leaders. Invite nonprofit partners to share their stories of impact volunteering to add a moment of reflection to the program of events.

13. If your company involves employees in an annual event such as a day, week, or month of service, reward your best volunteer or leader with an all-expenses-paid trip to a different market for next year’s event. They will have the opportunity to volunteer with new colleagues and bring fresh ideas back to their market.

Need more employee recognition ideas? Don’t forget to check us out Global Volunteer Month toolkit for enterprises, which includes more ideas for celebrating employees. Plus, Point of Light Enterprise Service Solutions team is a resource for community-oriented companies looking to build and expand effective employee volunteering programs. We believe that companies, their employees, partners, vendors and customers can be drivers of transformative social change in societies around the world.

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