Volunteer Appreciation Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank (CPC 2017 Breakout Notes)

Free and Low-Cost Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

A few weeks ago, I attended my very first Children’s Pastors Conference (CPC) in Orlando, Florida.  I was invited to lead a few one-on-one coaching sessions (which I absolutely loved!), participate in a Women in Leadership panel and lead a breakout about free and low-cost volunteer appreciation ideas.

Here are a few highlights from that breakout session:

4 P’s of Volunteer Appreciation

Volunteer appreciation should be:

Purposeful

This is the ‘why’ – we should have a purpose or reason for appreciating our volunteers.  Knowing the ‘why’ sets the course for the other 3 P’s, so it’s important to establish this first.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your appreciation strategy?
  • What is your budget and time allotment?
  • What do you want them to feel or know?
  • Who can help you brainstorm ideas and implement the plan?

Personal

This is the ‘what’ – what speaks their love language?  What do they like?

Questions to consider:

  • Do you know your volunteers’ favorite things?
  • If not, how can you find out this information?
  • Do you know their special days, like birthdays, anniversaries, volunteer anniversaries, etc.?

Plentiful

This is the ‘when’ – show them appreciation regularly!

Question to consider:

  • When can your team recognize volunteers?

Practical

This is the ‘how’ – how will show them you appreciate them?

Question to consider:

  • What can you do in the next week to appreciate at least one volunteer?

Free Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

My breakout attendees shared their favorite free volunteer appreciation ideas (I threw in a few, too).  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Ask the congregation to share how a volunteer impacted them and share the story on your church’s website
  • Thank you cards (written by kids)
  • Thank you cards (written by email)
  • Thank you notes (written by your or your team)
  • Praise them for handling difficult situations
  • Hold a brunch where parents sign up to bring food items
  • Brag to your senior leadership about them
  • Coordinate a group outing for them and their families
  • Shout them out on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Praise them in front of their peers
  • Present them with flowers from someone’s garden
  • Acknowledge them during a worship service
  • Fill a bulletin board in your volunteer lounge with quotes, notes, pictures, etc.
  • Highlight them in your bulletin
  • Ask their opinion – this makes them feel ownership and value
  • Text them a picture of them in action with a thank you note

Low-Cost Appreciation Ideas

My breakout attendees also shared their favorite low-cost volunteer appreciation ideas (I threw in a few here , too).  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Gloves with lotion
  • Free item from church cafe
  • CM swag items such as personalized mugs, t-shirt, buttons, lanyards, pens, tote bags, hats and water bottles
  • Redbox movie/code with popcorn
  • Gift cards to restaurants or coffee shops
  • Homemade baked goods
  • Bagels or donuts
  • Potted plants or bouquets of flowers
  • Bags of candy
  • Framed picture of class/group
  • Candy gifts such as:
    • Dove chocolates: “You are the heart of the ministry.”
    • Tootsie Rolls: “Thank you for your role at our church.”
    • Charm Pops: “I am charmed to have you join us!”
    • Life Savers: “Thanks for being a life saver!”
    • Gummy Bears: “I appreciate you beary much!”
    • Extra Gum: “Thanks for always going the extra mile for our kids!”
  • Mason jars filled with cookies, soup mix, or hot chocolate mix

Appreciating those who’ve said YES to serving doesn’t have to break the bank.  A little creativity and heartfelt gratitude go a long, long way.

Find even more ideas on my Volunteer Appreciation Pinterest board.  If you’re looking for last-minute Valentine’s Day ideas, check out my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.

What are some of your favorite free or low-cost volunteer appreciation ideas? Share them with me below!

My New Project!

My new resource book for Children's Ministry leaders, homeschool parents and Christian educators is coming soon!

It’s been a little quiet here on the blog because I’ve been working on a very special project that has required my time and attention.

For a long time, I dreamed that one day, I’d like to write a book.  In my mind, I didn’t see that happening for many, many years down the road…you know – when I had time to write one.  Well, I’m excited to finally share that my dream has become a present reality!

This past October, I was approached by a reputable Christian publisher to write a resource book for Children’s Ministry leaders, homeschool parents and Christian educators.  It was an opportunity of a lifetime that, after prayerful consideration and the full support of my family, I humbly accepted.

As I have written words in this space, I have been amazed time and time again how the words God gives me translates to what is shared and read here.  I have found the same to be true as the book has come together.

The resource book, which will be released in September 2017, will also feature hand-drawn illustrations by my very talented 17-year old daughter.  I am thrilled to be able to share this experience with her!

More specifics, such as my writing process, what I’ve learned, book title and other details, will be shared soon, but I’d covet your prayers as my first of two deadlines is next week – eek!!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support as I embark on this exciting journey!

Top Posts of 2016

Happy 2017, friends!

I hope your 2017 is off to a great start!  Before jumping too far into the new year, I wanted to reflect on the top posts shared here in 2016.  I tried to post from a variety of angles, from what God taught me personally to giving a glimpse into my ministry world.

Top 5 Posts of 2016 from KidMinspiration - A Children's Ministry Blog

Here’s a recap of the top kidmin posts of 2016.  Check out any that you may have missed (and please, share them if they spoke to you.)  I look forward to writing more here in 2017 and sharing (really soon!) about a new project I’ve been working on.  Stay tuned!

1. When Kidmin Breaks Your Heart

2. Preparing for Move Up Sunday

3. When There Are No Words

4. Preschool Curriculum: Why We Chose Orange’s First Look

5. A Conversation About Teaching Kids the Gospel

I appreciate you for reading and being part of this community!

As we look ahead to 2017, what topics would you like me to tackle here on the blog in 2017?  Leave your thoughts below or email me at kidminspiration@gmail.com.  

Children’s Ministry and Race

Here's Why We Must Start Talking About Race in Children's Ministry

Recent events have precipitated the many conversations happening around the issue of race in America right now.  I’m glad that these conversations are also happening in the area of Children’s Ministry.  As uncomfortable and sometimes difficult it is for these conversations to occur, these conversations are so important to have.

A few months ago, I wrote about this very thing (you can find that post here).  Shortly after that post, I came across a post in a Facebook group that caught my eye. A kidmin leader mentioned that she had transformed a puppet that she found from being a ‘thug’ to being more appropriate for church.  To say that I was mortified would be a huge understatement, primarily because I didn’t know that a gold chain could classify a puppet a ‘thug’.  When I responded (after praying about how to use the right words to respond appropriately), some said that I was over-reacting.  Some said that the leader was not being racist and didn’t mean anything by it.  I was even told to ‘lighten up’.

While I don’t know the woman’s intention, the point I wanted to make to the group was that we have to be careful in the language we use and how we view people (even puppets) who look different from us.  My heart was grieved. What we say – and don’t say – says a lot.

My friend, Henry Zonio, reached out to me after my original posts to continue the conversation regarding race and Children’s Ministry.  I wanted to share his article here with you so that you, too, can be part of the conversation.

You can access Henry’s article here: http://childrensministry.com/articles/race-today-red-and-yellow-black-and-white/

Special thanks to my friend Christine Yount Jones and the team at Children’s Ministry Magazine for running this article.

Keep the conversation going! What are your thoughts around this topic?