Have you used any of the following strategies to pay volunteers? What does your organization do to enrich supporters?

Your volunteers are one of your organizations greatest assets. It would be impossible to reach your organizational goals and fulfill its mission without them. How is your nonprofit giving back to volunteers and demonstrating to them that you value their time? Remember volunteers commit and provide their time without the reward of financial gains. Rewarding them may require some out of the box thinking.

Even though volunteerism is an act performed without financial benefits there are still several ways that you can reward and pay volunteers for provided time.

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” – Sherry Anderson (view additional volunteer quotes)

Here are 5 ways that you can pay volunteers in exchange for their commitment without money.

Pay volunteers by communicating impact

Your supporters have volunteered their time because they believe in your cause. A great way to reward them for their commitment is by communicating personal impact.

Here are a few ways to communicate impact:

  1. Provide volunteers with stories that demonstrate mission and goal attainment.
  2. Ask volunteers to share personal stories about experiences with others.
  3. Communicate impact by providing volunteers with facts (example: How many people were served in conjunction with their fulfillment)
  4. Communicate progress often and in different ways.
  5. Make the impact as personal as possible through personalized communication tactics.

Appreciate volunteer skills and interests

One of the best ways to pay your volunteers is by developing their personal skill-set and providing opportunities that interest them. Did you know that 56% of new volunteers believe that volunteerism will help them reach career goals and aspirations in the future?

Based on this statistic it is clear that organizations need to create opportunities for volunteers to learn, polish, and practice personal abilities.

Here are a few tips on how to pay your volunteers with experience:

  1. Offer volunteers training opportunities that polish their skill-set.
  2. Provide volunteers with valuable networking experiences.
  3. Encourage volunteers to ask for job-related recommendations.
  4. Encourage volunteers to include opportunity fullfilment on resumes.
  5. Provide volunteers with a mentor.
  6. Make sure your staff is prepared for volunteers in advance.
  7. Allow volunteers to try new opportunities in an area that interests them.

Pay volunteers through recognition

Providing rewards and recognition to volunteers is a great way to acknowledge opportunity fulfillment and keep volunteers engaged. A recent study, performed by AON Hewitt, found that recognition is a top engagement driver. Rewarding volunteers has also been shown to increase retention rates.

There is a common misconception in the nonprofit space that creating a rewards and recognition program costs a lot of money. On the contrary, there are several easy-to-implement ways to recognize volunteers in a cost-effective way.

Here are a few ways to pay volunteers through recognition:

  1. Post appreciation photos and videos highlighting opportunities on your organization’s marketing site (get permission first)
  2. Send volunteers personalized thank you notes.
  3. Invite volunteers and families to recognition events.
  4. Provide volunteers with freebies (t-shirts, cups, gift certificate to local establishment)
  5. Offer volunteers leadership roles based on performance.
  6. Create and distribute a volunteer scrapbook.
  7. Identify and deploy simple acts of gratitude.

Encourage volunteers to provide program input

Requesting input from volunteers is a great way to optimize your program and make volunteers feel special at the same time. Input collection should be at the top of the priority list during each stage of interaction with prospects. There are several easy ways to collect input from volunteers. Here are a few:

  1. Create and implement a volunteer satisfaction survey to send to all post opportunity fulfillment.
  2. Schedule time with volunteers to discuss feedback in a small group setting.
  3. Gather input and feedback during orientation. Make it part of the process.
  4. Gather input and feedback during volunteer recognition events. Again, make it part of the process.
  5. Provide volunteers with ample communication avenues to submit input at any time.

Pay your volunteers by creating friendships

One of the best parts about volunteerism is the ability for volunteers to create friendships with other volunteers and the people your nonprofit is serving. Make sure that your nonprofit is enabling friendships to be made. Volunteers who become close friends with other volunteers are more likely to continue to fulfill future opportunities with your organization.

Here are a few ways to entice volunteers to create friendships:

  1. Encourage volunteers to bring friends to volunteer opportunities.
  2. Incorporate some free-time for each volunteer during opportunity fulfillment.
  3. Host team building events for volunteers on a regular basis.
  4. Encourage volunteers to be themselves in the group.


Providing personal value is the best way to pay volunteers for their commitment to your organization and its mission. Your nonprofit can provide personal value by communicating impact, developing skills, recognizing efforts, encouraging input, and creating friendships.

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