Below you’ll find the transcript for episode 32, Volunteer Appreciation: Great Gifts and Guidance from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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EP 32: Volunteer Appreciation: Great Gifts and Guidance
Intro: Welcome to the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. I’m Cyndee Ownbey, your host and women’s ministry mentor. I’m the founder of Women’s Ministry Toolbox and the author of Rethinking Women’s Ministry. The Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast is a podcast for women’s ministry leaders and team members of all stages (from new to seasoned) serving in their local church community. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of women’s ministry, I’ll be asking seasoned women’s ministry leaders to share their best tips and the lessons they’ve learned. Together we’ll learn to build a flourishing, Christ-focused women’s ministry.
This week, we’re deviating ever so slightly from our series on discipleship to talk about Volunteer Appreciation.
Today I’m offering some gift-giving guidance as well as a list of gift ideas.
As I record this episode, Christmas is quickly approaching and many leaders in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Facebook group are looking for gifts to give their team this Christmas.
Before we go any further, let me assure you that Christmas gifts for your volunteers aren’t a requirement and volunteer appreciation gifts can be given any time of year.
The best expressions of volunteer appreciation include thanks and recognition for what God has done through them.
In the Bible, Paul was generous in his appreciation of fellow servants in Christ. In Romans 1:8, Paul says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2 says, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.”
Volunteer appreciation can and should be distributed verbally on an ongoing basis.
Our women’s ministry team director, Becky, does a great job of this. She is quick to express her thanks and recognizes how God has worked in and through each one of us.
Volunteer appreciation may also involve giving your volunteers a gift once a year (or more if you like to give them small little happies).
I love to give gifts of appreciation to women’s ministry volunteers and team members. I love to shop and I love to find a great bargain. I keep my eye out all year long for gifts for people. If you need some gift ideas, I’ve got plenty of tips and ideas to share with you.
4 Things to Consider When Giving Gifts
- What is your budget? How much do you want to spend per person? Is this coming out of your personal budget or the church budget? Either way, determine what you’ll spend before you begin browsing.
- Who will receive a gift? Are you doing something for all of your Bible study or small group leaders? Are you just thanking your women’s ministry team members? Regardless, make a list and check it twice to make sure you don’t inadvertently leave someone off your list!
- Can (or will) the recipient use it? If you’re giving a gift card, is this a place that person will go? Food is tricky – you need to be aware of any dietary restrictions and preferences. If Susan is working to remove sugar from her diet, please don’t give her a box of fudge. If Jill can’t have gluten, please don’t give her a container of Christmas cookies.
- Do you want your gift to be connected to Christ? Is it important to you that your gift provides spiritual encouragement? Are you looking for something that has a verse on it?
Now that you’ve thought through the who and why, let’s dig into some gift ideas.
8 Volunteer Appreciation Gift Ideas:
1. Handwritten cards
I have a drawer in our nightstand where I keep every thank you card I’ve received. While I’ve never pulled them out to re-read them, maybe I will someday when I retire from women’s ministry. There is something special about someone taking the time to handwrite a thank you note.
Don’t underestimate the value of a card and personal note.
2. Gift cards
The amount can be tricky to determine. After one event we were given gift cards to a local ice cream store that were the exact amount for a milkshake with a note to enjoy a milkshake.
Whether you give $5 gift cards, $25 gift cards, or something larger, be mindful of being a good steward. Word will get around about what your volunteers received and you don’t want to be called into the church office over concerns that you were misusing church funds.
3. Homemade food
Maybe you have a secret Christmas candy recipe that’s been passed down for generations. At one church we were given bottles of a secret seasoning mix – it was amazing – though at first, I was a bit underwhelmed.
Just be certain the recipient can enjoy the gift herself – it’s no fun to watch your family members devour a gift that was meant for you.
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Jewelry can be very taste-specific, so if you go this route get select something that’s classic. One year I found bracelets with a treasure box charm that tied in perfectly with our theme for the year. I was SO excited to give them to our team. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the size of everyone’s wrist and at least one team member couldn’t wear hers as it was too small.
Maybe you read a book this last year that make a huge impact on you or maybe you want to give each volunteer a small devotional.
If you want to encourage your volunteers to read the Bible, consider purchasing a paperback copy of my book, READ: A Bible Study Plan for Unpacking God’s Word.
6. Candles, lotions, and bath soaps
This is another area I suggest you proceed with caution. Many women I know avoid products with certain chemicals, if you go this route try to find products that have a good EWG score. Scents can trigger asthma attacks and allergies.
7. Volunteer Dinners
Some women’s ministry teams, especially in larger churches host a volunteer appreciation dinner. Often these dinners are held at Christmas. You might host a dinner for your Bible study leaders at the end of the semester. Sometimes attendees are also given a small gift. If you’re providing a nice meal, you may want to consider inviting spouses to attend too.
If you’re considering hosting a dinner, be sure you provide an opportunity for attendees to share any allergies or food restrictions. We were once invited to a volunteer dinner. They served spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad. Knowing I could probably only eat a salad since I’m gluten-free, I had a snack before we left the house. Unfortunately, they had already added croutons to all of the salad so I wasn’t able to eat anything. I tried to make the best of it and visited with others, several of whom were concerned that I wasn’t eating. It made an awkward situation even worse.
And one more tip, don’t forget to provide childcare for your meal. It’s not much of a thank you if any of your attendees have to pay a babysitter – they might even opt to stay home.
Tote bags, mugs, notebooks, t-shirts – These might feature your women’s ministry logo or a Bible verse. You can have something custom-made or not.
Homemade Gift Ideas
- The Gift of No Dishes – Give your volunteers the night off from doing the dishes! The Gift of No Dishes is a gift bag filled with decorative paper plates, silverware, napkins, and cups. Your ladies will love the break from the dishes and will enjoy an extra festive meal one evening. You’ll find the free printable tag and details here.
- Christmas Potpourri – Give the gift of the smell of Christmas by creating your bags of Christmas Potpourri with an orange, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. You’ll find the directions and a free printable tag here.
- Have a Comfy & Cozy Christmas – fuzzy socks, super soft blanket, sweatshirt, or slippers. Free Printable tags that say Have a Comfy & Cozy Christmas and includes either Psalm 94:19 or 2 Thessalonians 2:16. These would also be great for a service project such as donating no-sew fleece blankets or slippers to a shelter or nursing home. Click here for the free printable tags.
As we close out this post, I want to give you permission to get your team members different gifts. If you’re giving $10 gift cards, take the time to pick something out specifically for each person.
However you decide to show your volunteers appreciation, please keep in mind that you’re setting a precedent. What you do this year will be expected again next year.
Today’s Toolbox Tasks:
- Make a list of volunteers you want to thank.
- Decide when and how you’ll thank them.
And in case no one has told YOU lately, you are appreciated! God is using you to further His Kingdom through your service in the women’s ministry in your local church. Thank you for serving so unselfishly.
Outro: Thank you for listening to this episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox podcast. Leading in women’s ministry can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! You’ll find support and ideas you can use in the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Community Facebook Group. We’d love for you to join us! Search for us on Facebook or visit womensministrytoolbox.com/groups to access the link. May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may He direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the LORD be apparent to every woman you serve.
You may also want to read:
10 Tips for Thank You Notes
Must-Read Leadership Books
The Gift of No Dishes (Christmas version)
The Gift of No Dishes (Valentine version)
Comfy & Cozy Inspirational Gift