Thanksgiving is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop thanking people. This is especially true if you are a leader in a church or non-profit. In for-profit businesses, people will keep coming to work even if they aren’t noticed. Not always true for those that are volunteering their time week after week. That doesn’t mean that the cause isn’t great. It just means we have to reiterate time and time again how much we appreciate people that volunteer their time.
So, how do we intentionally do that?
1. Create a culture of appreciation
One mass email of appreciation to your team won’t do it. Try to think of ways you can implement appreciation into your system on a regular basis. There’s a pastor that has a party for his volunteers at the end of every year. There’s another church leader who created a team name for those who served to make them feel a part of something special. At our church, we’ve started implementing monthly and annual awards of excellence for those that volunteer their time. It does 2 things: 1) Allows people to feel like their work is appreciated. 2) Allows people to strive for excellence.
2. Go analog over digital
A hand written card or a sincere “Thank you!” will always beat a text, email, or tweet. You know which one you’d rather have. Then, why do we keep sending out mass emails and tweets? When giving appreciation, always go public and personal. We usually get the public part down; A post on Facebook or an announcement from the podium. Personal appreciation is more important than public, though. If people don’t feel that we appreciate them when we’re not in a microphone or on Facebook, they might wonder if we are actually thankful for them or if we just say that about everyone. Yes, have appreciation parties, but don’t forget the power of the personal “thank you”.
3. Keep it fresh
Pizza parties are cool every once in a while, but even free food gets old. Try to shake it up. When I was a kid, my mom had a red plate for special occasions. If I got a good grade on a test or it was my birthday, I got to eat with the red plate. It’s something so small, but it meant the world to me, because I knew that plate was saved for special occasions. What could be a “red plate” for your team? If there is a reserved parking spot at your church, could you let someone who is excelling have it for a month? Try to keep thinking of ways to keep the special from becoming the mundane.
We will never regret saying “thank you”. It allows people to feel valued. That’s what we all want isn’t it?