How to Crush Your Next Recognition Speech with These Volunteer Appreciation Quotes
So, you’ve been asked to deliver remarks at your next volunteer recognition event, and you’re on the search for some decent volunteer appreciation quotes.
Or you’ve got a pile of blank thank you notes on your desk and you’re running out of steam.
You’ve just struck gold!
Either way, we’ve got you covered.
In this blog post, we’ve curated a heartwarming and insightful array of volunteer appreciation quotes that are sure to please.
Plus, we’re capping off the list with some quick tips and a formula for delivering the best volunteer recognition speech ever in less than 10 minutes!
In today’s world, people are craving connection and meaning. So, simple platitudes just won’t cut it.
“There’s no “I” in Volunteer!” or “Volunteers complete us!” OR “We simply could not do it without our valued volunteers!” just won’t do.
No, in order to knock it out of the park, and leave your volunteers with the warm fuzzies they deserve, it’s time to be a little more thoughtful.
This post shows you how.
Choosing your Volunteer Appreciation Quotes Wisely
We often write about the six key functional motivations of volunteers and how they can be applied to the volunteer engagement practices of nonprofits.
If the primary needs of each volunteer are met, then they will be more likely to begin, or to continue, volunteering.
So, when selecting the quotes you will use, why not focus on the top motivations of your team.
Consider the following volunteer motivations. Which are the top one or two for your team?
- Protective Motives – a way of protecting the ego from the difficulties of life
- Values – a way to express one’s altruistic and humanitarian values
- Career – a way to improve career prospects
- Social – a way to develop and strengthen social ties
- Understanding – a way to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities
- Enhancement – a way to help the ego grow and develop
When you choose messages to share why not choose those that are most likely to land favorably and to have deeper meaning. You know … the kind that lead to deep head nodding and knowing smiles.
So, given your volunteer team’s primary motivations, which kinds of quotes might resonate with your team most? Once you got them identified, you can scan and select quotes from the list below.
Note how all are directly about volunteering. They don’t need to be.
Folks enjoy quotes that have a deeper meaning, a lesson we can apply to our lives.
The same goes for speeches.
Forget the platitudes. Go straight for content that helps us see all the beauty and struggle in being human. Here are some quotes that might appeal, organized by key motivation.
For more on how to deploy the functional motives of volunteers in your practice, check out How to Align Your Social Media Strategy with 6 Key Volunteer Motivations
Quotes That Support Specific Volunteer Motivations
- “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” — Brené Brown
- “If you ever need a helping hand, it is at the end of your arm. As you get older you must remember you have a second hand. The first one is to help yourself. The second hand is to help others.” — Audrey Hepburn
- “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” — Martin Luther King
- “In proportion as one renders service, he becomes great.” — Booker T. Washington
- “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” — John Wesley
- In order to motivate others, you must first become a source of motivation by yourself. It simply means that if you want to get anything done through others, you must first do it yourself.” — Hazrat Ilyas Attar Qadri
- “First, there’s the job-where the goal is simply to earn a living and support your family. Then there’s the career–where you trace your progress through various appointments and achievements. Finally, there’s the calling– the ideal blend of activity and character that makes work inseparable from life.” — Robert Bella
- “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” — Muhammad Ali
- “You have to become involved to make an impact. No one is impressed with the won/loss record of the referee.” — John Holcomb
- “We are all like one-winged angels. It is only when we help each other that we can fly.” — Luciano de Crescenzo
- “If you can’t go where people are happier, try to make people happier where you are.” — Ashleigh Brilliant
- “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” — Ethiopian Proverb
- “The debt that each generation owes to the past, it must pay to the future.” — Abigail Scott Dunaway
- “Destiny is not necessarily what we get out of life, but rather, what we give.” — Cary Grant
- “A candle loses nothing of its light when lighting another.” — Kahlil Gibran
- “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” — Edmond Burke
- “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Ghandi
- “He who does nothing for others does nothing for himself.” — Goethe
Volunteer Appreciation Quotes for Volunteer Leaders (and the Staff Who are Present)
There’s also no reason why you shouldn’t be addressing the entire team at your next volunteer appreciation event.
It’s not only volunteers that show up. Why not make it meaningful for everyone?
- “Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations.” — Ryunosuke Satoro
- “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” — Maya Angelou
- “Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” — Pamela Vaull Starr
- “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.” — Latin Proverb
- “You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” — Author Unknown
- “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein
- “The tallest tree gets the most wind.” — Anonymous
- “Where do you go to get permission to make a dent in the universe? If you think there’s a chance to make a dent, go.” — Seth Godin
Customer Service & Marketing
- “Potential supporters [must] not only believe in your mission, but in your capacity to deliver on that mission.” — Jim Collins
- “People are down on what they’re not up on.” — Anonymous
- “As an organizer, I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be.” — Saul Alinsky
- “The large print giveth, but the small print taketh away.” — Tom Waites
- “If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” — Anonymous
Performance and Planning
- “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” — Napoleon Hill
- “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” — Mark Twain
- “The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.” — Steven Wright
- “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” — Dalai Lama
- “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle
- “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” — Seth Godin
- “There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something” — Thomas Edison
- “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.” — Dorothy Sarnoff
- “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving in words evidence of the fact.” — George Eliot
- “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” — George Jessel
- “No one ever complains about a speech being too short!” — Ira Hayes
Volunteerism & Teamwork
- “In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” — Marianne Williamson
- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
- “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” — Kenyan Proverb
- “Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. — Anonymous
- “We must all hang together or most assuredly we shall hang separately.” — Benjamin Franklin
- “No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Volunteers are love in motion!” — Anonymous
- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill
Just for Fun
- “How do I set a laser printer to stun?” — Anonymous (LOL! I love that one!)
- “A pessimist is a person who has had to listen to too many optimists.” — Don Marquis
- “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” — Abraham Lincoln
- “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” — Charles Shulz
- “Everyone with telekinetic powers, raise my hand.” — Emo Philips
- “Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” — Dale Carnegie
For a quick solution to volunteer appreciation, grab our free Bundle of Volunteer Quotes Social Media Graphics
How to Crush Your Keynote Speech
So, you’ve been asked to give the keynote speech at your next volunteer recognition event. You’ve curated a few inspirational quotes, but you’re not quite sure you’re p-reared to give a first-rate speech.
Follow these tips and formula, and you’ll leave your audience wanting more (which is exactly how you should leave them).
First, leave the long list of personal “thank you’s” to someone else. Nothing kills a set of short remarks faster. This is not your role in the event.
As the main speaker, you should thank ONLY the host or give a general thank you to the group.
Follow this Simple Formula for Your Remarks
- STEP ONE: Share How YOU Got Involved with the Organization
- Don’t over-indulge but link it to your passion for the cause and why it matters.
- STEP TWO: Tell a STORY
- About what the organization DOES. Avoid the mission statement. Tell me one story that is emblematic. It should be real, weighty, and have an outcome you are proud of.
- What ‘we’ are up AGAINST Talk briefly about the challenges and why “we” all need to come together. If this can be a SHORT compelling story, even better.
- Why does this work MATTER? When I was a nonprofit program director, I often spoke about the youth we worked with, the world I wanted for them, and why it mattered to the rest of us that they succeeded. Sometimes I told a funny story that made the point.
- An UNDERDOG story – Your org as “David” in the “David and Goliath” story, a volunteer or client’s triumph, a public story that illustrated persistence in the face of adversity. These stories are easy to find all around you. All you need to do is look.
- STEP THREE: Paint a PICTURE
- Describe in clear, vivid terms what you can achieve together.
- This is where you enlist their continued support.
- This is particularly helpful for introducing new initiatives.
- STEP FOUR: Make a Soft ASK
- This isn’t the time to ask for financial contributions, ut you can ask for actions, including volunteer efforts, but keep it low-key.
- Be clear, be specific, and make it actionable. Don’t make it feel obligatory but be enthusiastic. Let the volunteers make up their own mind about their future level of engagement.
The best speeches are authentic and leave you wanting more.
If people are standing, you get 5-7 minutes. If it’s a sit-down meal, aim for 7-9 minutes. More than 10 is simply too long. At a regular speaking pace, aim for about 750 words.
For more on hosting inspired online events, check out Nonprofit Virtual Events: Your Guide to Inspired Gatherings
Other Places to Inspire
You can even connect through quotes outside formal volunteer recognition events or letter writing. Consider how you can use quotes to spice up even the most traditionally banal conversations.
Why not add some pop to your communications by including an inspirational quote or two?
Add them at the bottom of a meeting agenda, on your training slides, in your volunteer or staff manuals, in your email signature, on your website, or even at the top of partnership agreements.
It’s really an easy thing to do. I often get enthusiastic feedback from the folks I’m communicating with about the quotes I include.
It’s a little bit of delight you can use to both inspire colleagues and supporters alike and emphasize your main message.
In the end, everyone just wants to be acknowledged for their contributions and to feel welcomed and included.
We all just want to be seen and appreciated for who we are.
It really is that simple.
Use quotes to help communicate in a variety of ways how much you love and cherish your volunteers, each and every one.
By making their days over and over again, you’ll soon find they’ll be with you for years to come.
Level Up Your Volunteer Engagement with Our Free Guide
Are you a nonprofit or public sector organization looking for inspirational guidance on how to lead volunteers with purpose? Then, look no further.
Our VolunteerPro Essential Guide to Managing Volunteers in Your Nonprofit will help you get started off on the right foot. Whether you are brand new to volunteer coordination or have been at for years, we hope you’ll find some helpful advice and resources on these pages.
Managing volunteers needn’t be a source of frustration. With a little investment of time and attention, your nonprofit can generate powerful volunteer impact that expands your base of donors and supporters and strengthens connections with diverse communities far beyond your agency’s doors.
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