I love to encourage my volunteers, and am always trying to find new ways to do so. There are many ways to do this, but I wanted to come up with the best for each volunteer and so each one was a different way. Here are four types of volunteers and great gift ideas for them:
For The Small Group Volunteer.
The small group volunteers we have work directly with students in a very relational setting, which setup the perfect gift specifically for them. To say thank you to them, I mass txt’ed the students who attend that small group four hours before they were to meet without the volunteer’s knowledge. The text asked the students to come with a written story of what the leader has affected them. The result of this was amazing: the stories were full of memories and thanksgiving, the volunteer just soaked it in, and the group grew a little closer that night.
For The Volunteer Who Loves Gifts.
I could have given them a Starbucks gift card so that they could use sometime that year, but for those with a gift love language, it is more of the purpose behind the gift and the effort put into it. All year, I had asked seemingly random questions to my volunteers, but I was trying to get to this point. What was their love language, and what could I give to them. For my one volunteer who fit this category, they loved a simple Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, so I bought that drink, put it inside a custom youth group mug and included a card that was signed by all the students. They loved that I both remembered that drink and the card that came with it.
For the Volunteer Who Is “Retiring”
I do not have one of these this year, but it was a possibility and I wanted to be ready for it if need be. Collecting all the memories, a student and I made a 10 minute video of the pictures from the years they had served so far and at the end recorded some of thank you’s from current and former students. We ended up saving the project for a year or two later when they do “retire,” but think it will be an amazing gift for them then.
For the New Volunteer
The perfect gifts for the one or two year volunteers could very well be a ton of youth group apparel and merchandise. For those on tight budgets, shirts that you have left over from earlier camps or years before they volunteered might be perfect for them. Other ideas could be a custom youth group travel mug, youth ministry books, paid admission to youth worker training, or other stuff. This is not to be cheap, but to help create culture and environment with them so that they feel like they belong. When they show up to the next event or lead the group again, they will have the swag.