Volunteer Engagement Tips From Our Top 10 Blogs of All Time

Can you believe we’ve been running this volunteer engagement blog for over SIX years!? 

We’ve been writing content week after week that offers support, insight, resources and more to leaders of volunteers. And, it’s been a labor of love. 

But soon, it will be time to say goodbye. 

No, we’re not going anywhere.  

Instead, we’ll soon be transitioning this blog into a PODCAST (so, stay tuned for news on that)! 

In the meantime, we thought we would offer up this roundup of our top 10 posts of all time, organized by category. Each includes a short synopsis and a link to the longer post; in case you’re interested in reading more. 

These have been fan favorites over the years, so they bear repeating, in case you missed them the first time around. 

We hope you enjoy them! 

Youth Volunteers 

Youth motivation to volunteer has been found to be similar to that of older volunteers, and common themes included helping others, social interaction and recognition. Contrary to popular stereotypes of youth as self-involved, youth volunteerism is motivated both by ‘self-oriented and other-oriented motivations,’ but they maintain the commitment for the basis of other-oriented motivations (Marta & Pozzi, 2008). 

Not surprising, some motivations are more important in youth volunteering, such as socialization to pro-social behavior, self-actualization, and peer pressure (de Guzman, 2007). In addition, youth volunteers form close bonds with their peers. In one study, Haski-Leventhal, et al. (2008) found “No less than 80% of the youth volunteers said that other youth volunteers were their closest friends.” Only 22% of adult volunteers developed close relationships with fellow volunteers. 

So, what’s the bottom line? Build socialization into volunteer activities and you’ll find younger volunteers keep coming back. 

Want to dive a bit deeper? Read one of our most popular blogs on the subject. 

#1: Online Service Learning: Projects for Students & Nonprofits 

It’s time for back-to-school, but doesn’t this year feel strange?  

No one knows whether students will be at home or in class. It’s not clear if or when we’ll be back to “normal.”  And parents are at their wits end trying to sort it all out. 

Unfortunately, the people who will suffer most are the students.  

But what if there were a way to help students continue to learn and grow? What if nonprofits could also benefit in the process, creating a win-win? 

In this blog, we share some specific project ideas for you and a list of resources you can tap to get it all going with minimal hassle. 


Volunteer Appreciation 

Volunteer appreciation is important to show that you value a volunteer’s commitment and effort. It can come in many forms: 

  • or promotions to volunteer leadership positions 

It plays a big part in increasing volunteer retention, builds trust, and strengthens staff-volunteer relations. 

We have written A LOT about volunteer appreciation over the years, and it shows! Read some of our most popular blogs on the topic.  

#2: How to Give Volunteer Gifts that Actually Mean Something 

As we near the gift-giving season of the year, you may be thinking about small tokens of appreciation you can give volunteers to show how much you care. 

And, if you’ve been working with volunteers for a while, you may also wonder what you can do to spice up your volunteer gifts this year.  

Bored with the perfunctory coffee mug or certificate? Then, keep reading.  

In this blog, we’ve got some creative ideas for you that also tap what really motivates your most valuable supporters. 


Want to learn more about how to appreciate volunteers? Learn my simple four-step strategy in our free VolunteerPro Thank You Letter Cheat Sheet. Grab your free copy here. 

#3: 5 Ideas for Virtual Volunteer Appreciation Events 

It’s been over 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered our communities and forced us to rethink how we engage our volunteers.  

And now, as the pandemic rages on, it is likely that we might not be able to recognize volunteers with large, in-person gatherings for some time now.  

And yet … if your community is experiencing Zoom-fatigue you might be a bit hesitant to plan another virtual volunteer appreciation event out of fear that no one will attend.  

But, yes, it can be done! 

In this blog post, we show how it is possible to create an engaging FOMO-worthy event that volunteers will actually want to attend!  


You’ll probably be writing a lot of thank you letters in the coming weeks.  Wondering how to write the perfectly crafted expression of gratitude? Check out our [Blog] This is How to Write the Perfect Volunteer Thank You Letter.  

You’ll get step-by-step instruction, and you can download a Free [Cheat Sheet] Volunteer Thank You Letter Sample and keep volunteers coming back with real, authentic gratitude. 

#4: How to Appreciate Volunteers Through Every Lifecycle Stage 

Do you find yourself scrambling for ‘just the right’ gifts and special events to let your volunteers know how much they are valued? 

Are you out of fresh ideas about what to do next or do you fear your current recognition strategy just isn’t hitting the mark? 

There is a way you can get ahead of the curve every time and even improve engagement and retention, and it doesn’t involve buying another coffee mug. 

In this blog, we introduce some of the concepts behind 360° Volunteer Appreciation. 

With a complete strategy in place at your organization, there will be more time for celebrating! 



Volunteer Impact 

The ability to explain the value proposition of volunteer services — and to develop and track metrics that matter — can help you more accurately paint a picture of volunteer effort while keeping stakeholders apprised of your progress. 

Having consistent, credible data on hand also builds trust and equips you to better advocate for respect and resources. 

Still struggling to figure out how and what to track? Read some of our most popular blogs on how and why you should calculate the value of volunteers.  

#5: Volunteer Impact Reporting: Why and How to Measure the Value of Volunteers 

The ability to explain the impact of volunteer services — and to develop and track metrics that matter — can help volunteer organizations more accurately paint a picture of the volunteer effort while keeping key stakeholders apprised of progress and achievements.  

However, measuring volunteer impact, and reporting on that impact, has long been a challenge for leaders of volunteers. With no clear roadmap laid out that shows exactly how and what to track, 

In this blog post, you will learn a process for documenting, assessing, and communicating impact.  

Follow these tips and you will find that your volunteer program will improve and grow! 


#6: The Value of Volunteerism: 5 Real Life Measures That Truly Count 

Volunteers add so much more to your organization than an extra pair of hands.  They bring expertise, community connections, credibility, and high-quality care to some of your most critical initiatives. 

What’s more, the ability of organizations to strategically leverage community assets and talent makes more resources available for everyone else in your organization. 

So, how do you calculate the true value of volunteers?  Is it even possible? 

In this blog post, we take a deep dive into a myriad of ways we can measure the value of volunteers. 

Who knew they were that powerful? 

Well, YOU did, of course! 


Learn how to show volunteer program value with our Quick Guide to Amazingly Simple Volunteer Impact & ROI.

Volunteer Program Needs 

To engage volunteer time and talent effectively, nonprofits need a solid volunteer management strategy in place.  

Successful volunteer management starts with a focus on the right tactics that include active volunteer recruitment, strategic placement, relevant training, proper supervision, and meaningful recognition.  

A well-integrated volunteer talent management system ultimately leads to increased volunteer productivity, greater satisfaction, and longer-term volunteer retention. 

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. 

As you work through your strategy, consider incorporating some of the tips from the following blog posts on important elements that should be considered. 

#7: A Volunteer Handbook Sample that Will Help Guide Your Volunteers 

Volunteer handbooks play a significant role in the success of managing your volunteer talent pool.   

When a volunteer begins their journey with your organization, they want to see how they fit into your organization and how they will contribute to your organization’s goals.   

A high-quality volunteer handbook can inspire volunteers to see what’s possible as a result of their service. 

If you have been tasked with developing a volunteer handbook for your organization but don’t know where to start, or want to refresh yours, read this blog post for a sample that will guide you. 


#8: Addressing Issues of Equity in Volunteerism: Where to Look & What to Do 

As leaders in the nonprofit sector, we are called upon to call out inequity and advocate for tolerance and justice, both outside and inside our own organizations. 

However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the diversity in our own volunteer programs can leave much to be desired.  

In this blog, we seek to explore the areas in which our sector can examine and improve upon in our quest to address power inequities throughout the entire volunteer lifecycle. 


#9: Volunteers and the Law: Legal Considerations for Your Nonprofit 

Did you know that you have a legal, and ethical, duty to protect your organization and its people from the potential legal pitfalls of engaging volunteers?  

If you’re curious which kinds of laws govern volunteer involvement, we’ve got you covered.  

In this blog post you’ll learn about US laws that affect how you engage with volunteers, and where the law leaves off and ethics takes over.  

Even if you live outside the US, this post will give you a good idea of the areas you need to review in your own country. 

If you’re ready to raise the bar on ethical volunteer program management at your organization, this blog is for you!  


Volunteer Experience  

Volunteer needs evolve over time. So, if you’re interested in designing an exceptional experience for them, it helps to understand their specific needs at each point of contact.   

Here’s one way you can start aligning your strategy to start connecting with the right volunteers for your cause.  

#10: How to Align Your Social Media Strategy with 6 Key Volunteer Motivations 

We often hear from volunteer managers and nonprofit communicators who are at a loss for what to post to social media to attract and retain volunteers. Is it simply a barrage of calls to action? Should it be success stories from current volunteers? Should it be the latest funny gif? 

Maybe some of the above, but we argue it needs to be a little more strategic than that. 

In this blog post we outline six research-based motivations that drive volunteers and how you can use them to craft social media messaging to attract just the right people for your good cause. 

You don’t want to miss this simple framework that can help you stop guessing and start building a social media calendar that generates real engagement! 


So, that’s it.  Our top 10 blog posts over the past six years.   

Is there a particular blog post we’ve written that you think should have made it to the list?  Why not post a link to it in the comments and let us know why you found it so helpful? 

Stay Tuned: More Volunteer Engagement Tips Coming Soon! 

Also, stay tuned for our new podcast coming soon, where we’ll share tips and tricks to attracting, growing, and scaling your volunteer efforts.   

In early 2022, we will also be releasing Season 3 of our original Time + Talent Podcast where we interview the best and brightest in volunteer resources management around the world. 

So, stick with us.  We have more helpful content on the way to help you make the most of volunteer talent in your community!