Gracias! Dankeschon! In any language, these ideas will help you express your gratitude to volunteers’ hearts!
“Thanks” is such a simple word, and it comes in many forms — some quick and easy, others more time-consuming and crazy. You’ll never run out of thank yous with almost 100 ways to say it.
1. Write three to five quick thank you notes each week.
2. Hand out mixed bags of Hershey’s Hugs® and Kisses®.
3. Send a postcard made of foam with a special Scripture verse of encouragement.
4. Plan a team retreat for encouragement and spiritual renewal.
5. Write a note in bright colors on a blank puzzle, break it apart, and send the pieces.
6. Give inexpensive salt shakers with Matthew 5:13a printed on them.
7. Give a video rental coupon and a bag of microwave popcorn.
8. Give a 100 Grand® candy bar with this note: “You’re worth 100 Grand to us!”
9. Give a long-stemmed chocolate rose.
10. At your next meeting, surprise volunteers with party decorations. Then celebrate!
11. Feature a teacher each month in your church bulletin, newsletter, or worship folder.
12. Send a “cookie gram”-a giant cookie with “thanks” iced on it.
13. Make button pins for all your volunteers: “KIDS LOVE ME!”
14. Place classroom supplies such as stickers, stamps, and stamp pads inside a basket and wrap it in colorful cellophane.
15. Personalize Christmas tree ornaments with names and a meaningful Scripture reference.
16. Allow children to plan a party for volunteers on a Sunday morning.
17. Take slide pictures and/or make videos during the year for a Volunteer Appreciation Sunday.
18. Print your children’s ministry’s logo on coffee mugs. To each one, attach this note: “You add an extra measure of flavor!”
19. Set up a Sunday Siesta Section in a quiet room, stocked with flavored coffees and teas, bagels or muffins, and inspirational music.
20. Give T-shirts with your ministry logo.
21. Give a small bouquet of flowers.
22. Leave a plate of homemade cookies in each classroom.
23. Volunteer to take leftover “gift with purchase merchandise” off a department store’s hands to use as thank you gifts.
24. Give small copies of encouraging stories or phrases from such authors as Max Lucado, Florence Littauer, or Oswald Chambers.
25. Design “coupon books” for volunteers, personalized with things you’ll do for them, such as “two hours of child care.”
26. Design a perpetual calendar with 365 of your favorite verses and phrases.
27. Use paint pens to inscribe each volunteer’s name on a tea cup.
28. Create a laminated Bible bookmark with a Scripture verse.
29. Make “Warm Fuzzies”-small, colorful pom-pom balls with wiggle eyes and paper feet. Place a “Warm Fuzzy” on each attendance folder.
30. Use paint pens to write on heart key chains: “We Love YOU!”
31. Have an advertising agency put your logo and theme verse on water bottles. Attach this note: “Thanks for running with our kids’ programs.”
32. Find a prayer partner for each volunteer. Send this card: “Pray-er’s name is praying just for you and Jesus’ kids!”
33. Give holiday pens or pencils on a Sunday morning near a holiday.
34. Put a birthday hat, party blower, and streamer at each chair for a meeting. Serve birthday cake and celebrate everyone’s un-birthday.
35. Use bright colored paper and tablet adhesive to make a computer-generated notepad for each volunteer.
36. On a paddle ball racket, write: “Have fun after a great class.”
7. Give lapel pins that say thanks-a cross, a “Jesus” fish, an angel, or a “#1 Teacher” pin.
38. Leave gold-wrapped chocolate coins or Hershey’s Kisses® with this note: “Your work with children is more precious than gold. Thanks!”
39. Fill plastic red apple containers with jelly bellies or sugarless candies. Give with this note: “You’re the apple of God’s eye!”
40. Thank all volunteers with an children-hosted “After-Holidays Open House.” Serve appetizers and festive punch or hot apple cider.
41. Surprise a volunteer with a balloon bouquet.
42. Give each volunteer a gift certificate for a treat from Baskin-Robbins or TCBY.
43. Give “World’s Greatest Sunday School Teacher” pens or pencils-to everyone.
44. Reserve a special parking spot for the “Teacher of the Week.”
45. Give canvas tote bags imprinted with your logo, church name, and a special Bible verse.
46. Have a “Root Beer Float Party” with kids as the hosts.
47. Organize a car wash for volunteers’ cars. Have kids do all the work for free.
48. Create a shadow box area in a visible area. Put up a volunteer’s picture and a short write-up. Tie a Mylar balloon of “Thanks” beside the box.
49. Have children complete “You’re special to me because…” slips. Then present the slips to teachers.
50. Surprise each volunteer with a gift subscription to Children’s Ministry Magazine.
51. On parchment paper, personalize a “Letter from Jesus.”
52. Take class pictures. Frame them and have kids sign each frame.
53. Use gold fabric puff paint to put each person’s name on a funny hat. Have volunteers wear their hats during an entire training meeting.
54. Send out a “Volunteer Gram” each week with news and announcements. Include a big thank you to individual volunteers in each issue.
55. Develop a “Homeroom Parent” program to help teachers with tasks such as attendance, follow-up, encouragement, and snack preparation.
56. Provide a place and time for prayer with volunteers before the hectic morning begins.
57. Print a poem, cartoon, or encouraging quote on colorful paper for each volunteer.
58. Plant a spring bulb in a clay pot. Use raffia to tie on this card: “Praise God that you’re blooming where He planted you!”
59. Give a bottle of blowing bubbles with this: “Jesus’ love bubbles over in you!”
60. Send volunteers an “E-mail Greeting Card!”
61. Get a massage therapist or nurse to give back rubs at a meeting.
62. Include your volunteers’ top interests for speakers, meetings, or educational needs in training meetings.
63. Make a mural with candid shots of teachers and children.
64. Have each child decorate a quilt square. Then have the squares sewn together for the children’s teacher.
65. Give a new book of holiday crafts, inspirational stories, picture books, or activity books.
66. Use the Internet to send a bouquet of flowers.
67. Give a gift certificate for dinner out.
68. Give your teachers the summer off with a big “Thanks, see you next fall!”
69. Make a “Certificate of Appreciation” for each volunteer.
70. Give a small rubber ball with this note: “Our kids are having a ball with you!”
71. Include children’s positive comments about volunteers in your church newsletter.
72. Enlist support teams to help teachers with baking, crafts, or music.
73. Decorate a plastic light switch plate with Micah 7:9.
74. Give a pack of gum with this note: “Thanks for sticking with us!”
75. Give a four-pack of light bulbs with this note: “You’re the light of the world!”
76. Have your pastor and governing board commission new volunteers with prayer.
77. Send a thank you letter to volunteers’ spouses.
78. In a children’s ministry celebration service, invite the congregation to show appreciation for volunteers.
79. Place a pretty bow on a pack of recipe cards, including one of your favorite recipes. Attach this note: “You have the ingredients of a great teacher!”
80. Check each classroom for basics such as crayons, felt markers, paper, Bibles, stapler, and scissors.
81. Pay for volunteers to attend workshops that benefit their ministry.
82. Have parents decorate classroom doors.
83. Feature a different children’s ministry program on a bulletin board in the adult education area.
84. Pray for a different volunteer each day. Send a card telling the volunteer you prayed for him or her that day.
85. Host a volunteers’ barbecue with special music and great steaks.
86. Have a Volunteers’ Hallelujah Hop with kids singing Christian versions of ’50s music, Hula Hoop contests, and great desserts.
87. Have a Volunteer Hallelujah Luau with an island-themed video of kids celebrating volunteers.
88. Give a banana with this message: “Thanks bunches! We go bananas for your help!”
89. Give great door prizes at meetings and celebrations.
90. Make random phone calls just to say thanks.
91. Hang vinyl banners that say, “Thanks, children’s ministry volunteers!”
92. At Christmas, give a festive mug with a candy cane and a packet of cocoa inside.
93. Create a personalized Scripture card for each person with a positive verse that reminds you of him or her.
94. Copy your children’s ministry mission statement on computer mouse pads.
95. Give a package of M&M’s® with this note: “Thanks for sharing God’s Majesty & Might with our children!”
96. Hold a “Cookie Exchange” where each parent bakes two dozen goodies. Gift wrap plates of varied goodies and have parents deliver the treats to volunteers’ homes.
97. Celebrate with a royal “Ambassador’s Dinner” since volunteers are ambassadors for Christ.
98. Have all your volunteers stand in a church service as someone sings a special song such as “Thank You!” by Ray Boltz or “Who Is Gonna Tell The Child?” by Acapella.
Mary Van Aalsburg is a children’s minister in Fresno, California.