An adapted excerpt from the ‘Powered by Pro Bono’ textbook.
Don’t underestimate the power of saying thank you
Pro bono connections run deep. When a business professional donates their expertise to your nonprofit, they’re investing time, energy, and passion into supporting your mission. It’s important that their work is respected and celebrated in return, which is why saying thank you to your volunteer is a critical step in the pro bono process.
Your skilled volunteer fell in love with your nonprofit for a reason, so when saying thank you, be uniquely you. Give kind gestures or shout-outs that are true to your culture while expressing just how grateful your organization is for their support. You never know – after celebrating your volunteer, you may find that your organization now has a new life-long supporter and advocate!
Here are a few ideas for celebrating your volunteer’s commitment to your nonprofit’s work:
Things to say:
- Recognize your volunteer at an annual staff retreat or quarterly board meeting.
- Highlight their work by awarding them your ‘Volunteer of the Month’ or ‘Volunteer of the Year’ title.
- Stay in touch with them after the project wraps with updates on how their work continues to help your organization.
- Offer volunteers additional ways to stay involved (board membership, other pro bono projects, hands-on volunteering opportunities, etc.) as a way to cultivate stronger relationships.
Celebration tip: Don’t wait until the project wraps to express thanks. While you’re working with your volunteer, say thank you often and enthusiastically! Be specific about what your organization
– as well as you personally – are thankful for.
Things to give:
- Free ‘VIP’ tickets to upcoming speakers, events, or galas hosted by your organization.
- A framed photo of your nonprofit’s mission in action with a personal message from staff members.
- ‘Swag’ with your logo on it – volunteers make the best brand ambassadors!
- An official letter of recognition that acknowledges the dollar value of the work they donated (dollar value available through your Taproot+ dashboard or by calculating using our pro bono valuation).
Celebration tip: Get creative! The more unique to your mission and thoughtful the gift, the more volunteers will feel recognized – don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Things to do:
- Provide them with opportunities to see your nonprofit’s work in action (attend a class, tour a site, etc.).
- Call out your volunteer’s accomplishments in your newsletter or on your website.
- Offer to act as a professional reference during their next job search.
- Ask your volunteer to write a personal testimony about their time working with your organization and distribute it through your blog or social media.
Celebration tip: A successful pro bono engagement means that just as your nonprofit has benefited from the partnership – so has the volunteer. Give your volunteer’s work visibility or help them make new professional connections to enrich their experience without costing your nonprofit a dime.
Throughout Taproot’s years of connecting nonprofits and volunteers, we’ve seen first-hand how powerful saying “Thank you,” really is. We encourage you to make a point to recognize your skilled volunteer for being generous with their time, talents, and passion – using the suggestions above or getting creative and trying out new ideas for celebration! After all, you never know which pro bono connection may lead to your next donor, advocate, or board member.