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Organizations focus a lot of effort on conveying gratitude to financial donors. Sometimes the essential and important work of volunteers can appear invisible to other stakeholders. You can showcase the impact of your volunteers, create a sense of community among them, and express your organization’s gratitude by creating a volunteer annual report.
When you thank donors, you likely explain what their financial support makes possible. Take the same approach with your volunteers. Sharing the total number of volunteer hours invested in a library book sale is impressive. But, that number becomes far more meaningful when you explain that thanks to the 257 hours of volunteer time that made the book sale successful, you’ll be able to offer weekly children’s programs in the year ahead. Help volunteers clearly see what their time makes possible.
Do include annual statistics for your volunteer program, such as the number of volunteers, number of total hours, number of new volunteers, and number of returning volunteers. Make sure that you also include anecdotes that tell the story behind these numbers. Consider a profile on a new volunteer’s experience, or the story of a community member who has directly benefited from the volunteer program.
Tracking volunteer hours gives you insight into a volunteer’s journey with your organization. If you have an annual volunteer event, you may already recognize volunteers who hit milestones, like 100 hours of service or 15 years of volunteering with your organization. Acknowledge these milestones in your annual report, too.
Volunteers are drawn to your organization because they care about the mission and feel it’s worthy of their time. It’s important to acknowledge that you know how valuable their time is. One of the ways you can do that is to listen to any frustrations they may have and do your best to resolve them. For example, you may be hearing from volunteers that they have a hard time making your required, quarterly volunteer trainings on Saturday mornings. Address challenges like these in your report, and lay out the steps you’ll be taking in the upcoming months to try and resolve that challenge. Show volunteers that you welcome their input and take their feedback seriously.
Your volunteers have a close relationship with your organization, and they should feel like respected insiders. To help nurture that feeling, establish a tone of warmth and appreciation throughout your annual report.
Once you decide to create a volunteer annual report, don’t let your organization get stuck in choosing just the right format or debating whether the annual report should be in print or email format. Your volunteers are too valuable to be put on the back burner. Whatever format you choose, your volunteers will appreciate the outreach and recognition, and will be more likely to continue investing their time in your organization.
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