Not only should we practice thanksgiving, we should also practice thanks-living—–a way of life that makes giving thanks and saying thanks central to everything we do.
Everyone likes to hear “thank you”—–including your volunteers. Here are practical thanks-living techniques you can apply with your volunteers:
Speak it. Get in the habit of saying thanks. If the Apostle Paul can tell people he thanks God for them every time he thinks about them, so can we. Walk around before services and thank volunteers personally. When you’re in front of a group of volunteers, say thanks. When you catch people doing things right, say thanks.
Write it. The best purchase any ministry leader can make is a box of thank-you notes. Write a heartfelt note to your volunteers when they’ve done something thanks-worthy. Send a card to each volunteer “out of the blue” twice a year-—and after every major event. Even a form letter is better than no thank you at all, but always write a short note to each volunteer and sign the letters personally.
Send Christmas cards, Valentine’s Day cards, birthday cards, and anniversary cards. I’ve found that when I write a personal note on reports, forms, and checklists my volunteers complete, they know I’ve read them and I’m aware of what they’re accomplishing.
Show it. Candy treats and little sayings are cute, but nothing says “thanks” more clearly than your actions. Special volunteer parking places, volunteer family breakfasts before services, Volunteer Appreciation Days, and recordings of the services they miss demonstrate to volunteers how much you-—and your congregation—really appreciate them.
Invest it. Plan a retreat or special training event for your volunteers that includes training, inspiration, and fun. Bring them as a group to a conference or seminar. Give volunteers training products as gifts. Purchase devotions, books, and teaching CDs for use by your volunteers. If a book has blessed you, bless someone else with it. The single greatest investment you can give your volunteers is your time. Look for ways to invest yourself in your volunteers. Connect with your volunteers on a personal level.
Make giving thanks to and for your volunteers part of your yearly calendar planning. Look for every opportunity to say thanks, write thanks, show thanks, and invest thanks in your ministry team. And, happy Thanks-Living!