While charities of all sizes usually have salaried employees, it is often volunteers that are the lifeblood of a not-for-profit organisation. Volunteers are unpaid and give up their free time to raise funds and increase awareness of a charity’s goals. If you’re a Trustee, you’ll know how important it is to recognise the efforts of volunteers. Read on for some ideas on how charities could reward their volunteers.

You could start with a simple reward scheme where a volunteer who you feel has gone the extra mile over a particular period of time – whether it is a week, month or year – is rewarded with vouchers or some other gift. Most people, regardless of their age or gender, would appreciate vouchers to spend at a High Street retailer. If nothing else, they can always give the vouchers to friends or family – or even donate the vouchers to charity!

Many UK charities run high street stores staffed by volunteers. Ensure you reward volunteers by having everything they need to create a positive working environment. Make sure you have an area where volunteers can take a break from working on the shopfloor and relax. Even simple things like free tea, coffee and biscuits can motivate your team.

When Christmas approaches, you can send out cards to your team of volunteers. Not only will you be wishing them well for the festive period, but these cards can also be used to thank them for their efforts over the past 12 months and perhaps include a personal message that outlines how their time has helped your organisation work towards its goals.

You could hold a quarterly lunch with your team of volunteers, while staging other social events to coincide with important milestones in your charity’s history – such as the date it was founded – is a good way to keep volunteers motivated and build team spirit.

You could offer free gifts to encourage volunteers. Telecoms company Orange and brand communication company RockCorps joined forces in a scheme that saw young people who dedicated four hours of their free time to volunteering at a charity given a free ticket to a concert. With these gigs featuring star acts such as Plan B, Mark Ronson and Lady Gaga, thousands of teenagers soon felt encouragement to do some good in their local community.

Of course, not all charities have the financial resources to give away free concert tickets. And that’s where promotional products can help. Reward your volunteers with small promotional gifts that can be used time and time again and they’ll be exposed to your brand for months, if not years. As a result, your charity’s promotional gifts should be a much better long-term reward than a concert that would only last for a couple of hours.

But which gifts are well-suited to volunteers? If your volunteers spend a good proportion of their time outdoors, how about a fleece, jacket or hat embroidered with the charity’s logo?

Are you a volunteer? How does the charity you work for recognise your efforts? Would you do anything differently if you were a Trustee? We’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below!