Two Little Words



A little thank you goes a long way. As a volunteer coordinator you understand how important those two little words can be to someone donating their time and working hard to make an event special. It’s easy to run out of ideas on ways to let your volunteers know you’re happy to have them and appreciate their hard work. Here are 6 creative ideas to help keep your thank you’s fresh!


Party Times!

Maybe not the most original idea in the world, but it is great for big or little groups. If it’s a small group try something like escape rooms or go-karting. If it’s a big group look for a nice party room with games or outdoor space where you can bring your own. Something that has activities for everyone to interact with each other is a great way to have fun and build your community.



Handmade gifts are a great way to say thank you. They show that you put time into thinking of a nice idea and into making the actual product. Pinterest is a great resource for quick and clever ideas (thanks a latte!).


Word Cloud

This is great for a smaller group of volunteers. There are a few ways to use the word cloud. Our favorite is to have the group of volunteers take time to write down 3 positive words about each other. Then, you take those words and enter them on this website: . A word cloud is created and you can print one off and frame it for each person.


Mix Tape

Jump forward a few decades and make a custom playlist through Spotify (or another music provider). No need to specialize it for each person as long as you create something that goes across different music tastes. Send it out to your team and let them know you’re thinking of them.


Make a Video

If you’re hosting a big event and there’s a kick-off night, think about making a video that shows how much their time means. Talk to the people going to the event, or members of the community that need their help to make that event successful. It will give you a way to show your appreciation, and help get them pumped up for the coming day(s).


Send an Email

Are you thinking, this doesn’t really seem creative? Sometimes you don’t have the luxury to come up with a genius idea to tell your volunteers how important they are, but that’s okay. An email might be just the thing. Be honest and lay out how the event couldn’t happen without them.


No matter what you decide remember that any thank you, however big or small, makes a difference. If you are sincere it will come through whether you say thank you in a creative or traditional way. And thank you, for all the work you do coordinating your volunteers!  

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Budgeting Basics

The world of volunteer coordinators is often fluid. When working with a free work force, you quickly find how to deftly roll with the punches and adapt to whatever circumstances arise. The same strengths that help you excel at your position often make it difficult to tackle tasks that appear rigid and fixed, tasks like creating a budget. Learning how to enter into the mingling of boundaries and flexibility is essential for both your organization and your event to thrive. So let’s take a look at some basic principles to help you get started.


Understand the Numbers

No matter your financial literacy, take time to fully understand the numbers for your event. The number one goal of your fundraising event is just this: to raise funds. If you produce the most innovative, entertaining, meaningful event, but it costs more money than it raises, you’ve still failed at your primary goal.


Take meetings with your financial team to understand the annual budget, the amount of resources earmarked for your event, and the variety of ways your event is planning to bring in income. As you list the forms of income (ticket sales, pledges per mile of a race, concessions, sponsors, etc.), be realistic in your estimations.


If this is your first event, reach out to organizations that have run similar events to see where their income levels began. If this is an established event for your organization, look through the budgets from years past to see the annual amount of growth per year to appropriately project this year’s numbers. Fundraising requires a high level of optimism and aspiration, but building your budget is a place to stay grounded in the information available to you.


List Expenses

If you’re a relational person, this may seem like another step that seems like a drag, but stay with me. Work through each aspect of your event and list all definite and probable expenses. Unexpected costs always pop up, but what can you anticipate? Authors Stan Hutton and Frances Phillips list the following categories as a good starting point for you and your team:

  • Location (space rental, site use permits, security guards, portable toilets, tents, cleanup costs)
  • Advertising and marketing (save-the-date postcards, photography, posters, invitations, event programs, publicist costs, postage, event website with a ticket purchase feature)
  • Production (lighting and sound equipment, technical labor, stage managers, auctioneers)
  • Travel and per diem (for guest speakers, performers, or special guests)
  • Insurance (for example, liability insurance in case someone gets hurt because of your organization’s negligence, or shipping insurance to protect donated goods)
  • Food and beverages (including permits for the sale or serving of alcohol, if necessary)
  • Decor (flowers, rented tables and chairs, linens, fireworks, banners)
  • Miscellaneous (prizes, awards, talent treatment, name tags, signs, t-shirts)
  • Office expenses (letter writing, mailing list and website management, detail coordination)
  • All other staff expenses


Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Now that you have the basic budget of cash coming in and going out, it’s likely time to make cuts. You’ve done the hard work of getting everything down on paper, and now it’s time to choose what is most important and most necessary. Brainstorm with team members to utilize multiple perspectives. In the end, help your team understand your decisions by discussing those priorities and the realities of the financial limitations.


Get Creative

Just hearing the word “budget” can conjure up feelings of conflict and restriction, but you don’t have to feel stuck. The budget provides parameters, but you can get as inventive as you’d like within them. Necessity begets creativity! Think of alternative solutions and partnerships that can help you achieve your goal. To maximize your marketing budget, perhaps existing sponsors are willing to use their social media channels to promote your event. To save on food and beverage expenses, look into your volunteer base to see if there are existing connections that may offer catering discounts. A solution is likely still present, even if it looks different than your first choice.


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