Appreciate volunteers — the sacred three keys to build a successful relationship

The will to show them they’re special

Before we start talking about any kind of “Thank you” for your volunteers, you should have in mind one priority thought: these people, before anything else, are human beings and you should treat them like that.

“Uhm, I know this”, you say and continue to do your volunteer coordinator work, probably a similar way like most of the people who hold this title.

BUT, working in people management, having a load of documents to organize in the volunteer administration folders and worrying about the next volunteer schedule can easily transform you into a machine.

In order to avoid this and to make sure that your volunteers feel recognized by you and your organization, there are several principles that you should hold on to. Sorry if this is not what you expected. No, we don’t plan to talk about what kind of presents you should get them or how to give them a pat on the back without spending any money.

We’re going to talk about true values that you, the volunteer coordinator, should stick to if you want to build a respectful relationship with your volunteers.


Showing interest in what your volunteers do, their needs, ideas, ways of work, their individual and team thought patterns, their way of functioning and their service is a must! This way, you prove your volunteers that they’re not exploitation material, but rather the pillar of your volunteer organization.

An extra would be if you have the ear for their private life, too. No, not gossiping and chit-chats. No, not every day. Only an ear when needed for the things that might be a weight on their mind and soul. Managing volunteers also means caring for their well-being when needed.

Eye contact

Oops! You’re afraid of direct eye contact? Sorry, you’ll have to work on this a little bit more! Eye contact is what makes us humane. Never, but never avoid looking in the eyes of the one who is giving everything to keep your organization strong and creative.

People management includes a lot of communication and body language and eye contact plays an enormous role in how your volunteers perceive you as a volunteer coordinator. What kind of a leader would you be if you don’t have the guts to tell a person that they’ve done a great work by just looking in their eyes? A weak one, to be honest.

This is the most respectful and most traditional, old school “Thank you” that you could give to your volunteers.


Nothing strengthens a human relationship as the gift “time” does. Spare a few minutes to talk to your volunteers throughout the week. Meet with them, discuss work, take a coffee and share a joke. These little things will make them feel recognized.

Recognizing your volunteers comes in different forms, but your favorite should always be the humane one.

And yes, since there are no tips on what kind of presents you should buy for your volunteers, here’s a bonus. Choose a volunteer management web app. Volunteers will be thankful if you organize their chaos for them, right?

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