How to Appreciate Volunteers: Cheap and Easy!

My whole adult life, I have worked for non-profit organizations, which meant two things: We had a very small budget (if any), and we relied on volunteer support.

While working for a ministry in the Pacific Northwest, we relied on “Resource Staff” to help us lead white water rafting or rock climbing trips for groups of at-risk youth. Although Resource Staff was a glorified title for volunteer, these men and women were the backbone of the organization. They took time off work, spent their own money, and went through days of training just to impact youth a few weekends a year.

During my years working at a local Boys & Girls Club, many volunteers helped make our program successful. Retired teachers would spend hours each week helping kids with their homework. College students would come in each week to connect with teens, play games and encourage them to set and achieve goals. We even had businessmen and women volunteer to facilitate job preparation classes for teens.

I volunteer regularly, and I know that volunteers are not doing it for the recognition. They are not going into a volunteer opportunity thinking, “I hope someone says thank you to me today.” No, they are thinking about the impact they could have and the difference they can make.

Often I found myself conflicted. I knew the volunteers did not expect anything in return for their time. But I wanted to say thank you, because without them, we would not have been able to offer our programs or provide needed support. I said thank you as often as I could but always wanted to do more to show my appreciation. Because of the very small budgets, I simply did not have the means to get elaborate thank you gifts for my volunteers. I am sure many of you have been in similar positions.

Good news! I recently learned about a service that will allow you to cheaply and easily logo_300show your appreciation to your volunteers. It is called txtmovies.com, and it allows you to email, text or tweet volunteers codes to be redeemed for a free Redbox movie. Who doesn’t like watching movies for free?

I volunteer at my church, and we sent free codes via text message to all of the volunteers who help out with our youth groups. This was a simple gesture to say, “Thanks for showing up for our youth each week! Enjoy a movie on us this Christmas.”

I even purchased codes myself to send out to friends that have been supportive to me and my family recently. It is a simple gesture to let them know that I appreciate them.

RBX_KIOSK_FRNT_LBThe Redbox codes are only $2.49 each and include delivery. If your organization has 25 volunteers, you could show them all a little appreciation for just around $60. Even for a non-profit, that’s not going to break the budget. They also offer an option to purchase Amazon Gift codes for $5.95.

If you want to appreciate your volunteers this Holiday season or throughout the year, click here to get started with txtmovies.

Here are other uses for txtmovies.com besides appreciating volunteers:

  • You can show appreciation for youth in your group who go above and beyond, help you out or maybe just need a pick-me-up.
  • Textmovies offers an option to link the free Redbox code to an online survey tool. You could create a survey for your youth members asking them for feedback on your program and let them know they will get a free Redbox movie for completing the survey.
  • TxtMovies has created a FREE Get to Know You Survey tool that can help you get to know new volunteers and thank them with a free movie.
  • If you have to cancel a meeting or appointment, you can send a free movie with a text apologizing for having to cancel.
  • And countless other great uses.

If you want to show appreciation to your volunteers by sending them a free Redbox Code click here and follow the three simple steps.

How do you show appreciation for volunteers who help out with your youth program?

The Beloit Mindset List: Great Resource for Youth Workers

Every year I wait with anticipation for the release of the newest addition of the Beloit Mindset list. It’s like that gift you order online and then begin to double-check the mailbox or front porch several times each day hoping it has arrive. When it does, you hug the FedX delivery man and begin to open it before you head back in your house. 

What! You have not heard of the Mindset List? Let me clue you in.

Two staff members at Beloit College in Wisconsin have been creating this list since 1998. The list focuses on the incoming freshman class and according to the Beloit College website, “it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.”

I have been referencing the Mindset List in training with youth workers and parents for years. It is a great tool to show the potential generation gap between you and the teens you work with. It shows the cultural phenomenons you hold dear and how this group of teens probably has no clue what you are talking about. It shows how times have changed and it provides you a look at their point of view.

Here are a few of my favorite statements from the Beloit Mindset List for the college Class of 2016:

  • Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
  • The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV.
  • There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’
  • Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.
  • History has always had its own channel.
  • Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.
  • Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
  • There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
  • Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.

There are a total of 75 of these gems so head over to the Beloit Mindset List and check the rest out for yourself.

Parent and Youth Worker Tips:

  • To serve, to engage and to connect with teens you need to have an understanding of who they are and who they are not. This is one tool you can use to gain understanding of what has and has not occurred in their lifetime.
  • Share this list with your teens and see which ones they question, laugh at or don’t understand. It is a great opportunity to connect and share with them what was culturally popular when you were a teen. You may even be able to educate them on some important events in history as well.
  • Create your own list. This could be a fun project with your teens. Create categories (Sports, movies, politics, fashion etc.) and list what is popular or what the news is related to that category. You create a list looking back on your teen years and have them create a list from their perspective currently as a teen. Share and have a good laugh together.