The last week of April is Canada’s National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize the hard work and dedication of volunteers across the country. With over 12 million volunteers in Canada alone, it is important to recognize their impact in their communities and abroad.

If your organization relies on volunteers, show your appreciation and help motivate them to continue their work. You can show gratitude many ways, but here are five ideas to get you started:

1. Say “thank you” the old fashion way: in person. Verbally thanking your volunteers on a regular basis will show you are always appreciative of their service, whatever week it is.

2. Is your volunteer working across the country or overseas? Send them a hand-written thank you note, describing how important they are to your organization. Remember to include specific details to make it more personal.

3. Have a small or tight-knit group of volunteers? Take them all out for a dinner celebration. Go to a local hotspot, or vote on the group’s favourite restaurant. This intimate setting will allow them to bond and will express your organization’s appreciation for their service. Be aware of any dietary restrictions so everyone feels welcome.

4. Not up for a dinner? If your volunteers all work together in an office, try throwing an afternoon office party. Give everyone a couple hours off and decorate with balloons, streamers and banners. Bring in some of their favourite snacks or organize a pot-luck.

5. For those organizations with a larger group of volunteers, a formal banquet is a great way to say thank you. Celebrate at an event hall or local establishment, where you can invite families to a night of dinner and dancing. You could even make it an awards ceremony and hand out trophies to volunteers with the most hours or greatest impact on the community.

If you, yourself are looking for a way to give back to the community, contact Toronto-based charity Beautiful World Canada. The organization relies on volunteers to help provide college and university scholarships to young women in Uganda, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Through their work, young women are given the chance to attend higher education — the first step in creating a better life for themselves and their families.

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