Gracias! Dankeschon! Merci! In any language, these ideas will help you say thank you and 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.
- Send a postcard made of foam with a special Scripture verse of encouragement.
- Provide a place and time for prayer with volunteers before the hectic morning begins.
- Plan a team retreat for encouragement and spiritual renewal.
- Give small copies of encouraging stories or phrases from such authors as Max Lucado, Florence Littauer, or Oswald Chambers.
- Have your pastor and governing board commission new volunteers with prayer.
- Create a laminated Bible bookmark with a Scripture verse.
- Find a prayer partner for each volunteer. Send this card: “Pray-er’s name is praying just for you and Jesus’ kids!”
- On parchment paper, personalize a “Letter from Jesus.”
- Create a personalized Scripture card for each person with a positive verse that reminds you of him or her.
- Pray for a different volunteer each day. Send a card telling the volunteer you prayed for him or her that day.
- Print a poem, cartoon, or encouraging quote on colorful paper for each volunteer.
Words of Affirmation
- Write three to five quick thank you notes each week.
- Send volunteers an “E-mail Greeting Card!”
- Make random phone calls just to say thanks.
- Write a note in bright colors on a blank puzzle, break it apart, and send the pieces.
- Use paint pens to write on heart key chains: “We Love YOU!”
- Have children complete “You’re special to me because…” slips. Then present the slips to teachers.
- Hang vinyl banners that say, “Thanks, children’s ministry volunteers!”
- In a children’s ministry celebration service, invite the congregation to show appreciation for volunteers.
- Include children’s positive comments about volunteers in your church newsletter.
- Send a thank you letter to volunteers’ spouses.
- Give your teachers the summer off with a big “Thanks, see you next fall!”
- Make a “Certificate of Appreciation” for each volunteer.
- Personalize Christmas tree ornaments with names and a meaningful Scripture reference.
- Use paint pens to inscribe each volunteer’s name on a tea cup.
- Take class pictures. Frame them and have kids sign each frame.
- Have each child decorate a quilt square. Then have the squares sewn together for the children’s teacher.
- Make button pins for all your volunteers: “KIDS LOVE ME!”
- Copy your children’s ministry mission statement on computer mouse pads.
- Place classroom supplies such as stickers, stamps, and stamp pads inside a basket and wrap it in colorful cellophane.
- Print your children’s ministry’s logo on coffee mugs. To each one, attach this note: “You add an extra measure of flavor!”
- Give T-shirts with your ministry logo.
- Have an advertising agency put your logo and theme verse on water bottles. Attach this note: “Thanks for running with our kids’ programs.”
- Give canvas tote bags imprinted with your logo, church name, and a special Bible verse.
Gifts Everyone Will Enjoy
- Give inexpensive salt shakers with Matthew 5:13a printed on them.
- Give a small bouquet of flowers.
- Volunteer to take leftover “gift with purchase merchandise” off a department store’s hands to use as thank you gifts.
- Design a perpetual calendar with 365 of your favorite verses and phrases.
- Give a video rental coupon and a bag of microwave popcorn.
- Surprise a volunteer with a balloon bouquet.
- 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!”
- Give a bottle of blowing bubbles with this: “Jesus’ love bubbles over in you!”
- Give “World’s Greatest Sunday School Teacher” pens or pencils-to everyone.
- On a paddle ball racket, write: “Have fun after a great class.”
- Give holiday pens or pencils on a Sunday morning near a holiday.
- 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!”
- Give a four-pack of light bulbs with this note: “You’re the light of the world!”
- Decorate a plastic light switch plate with Micah 7:9.
- Give a gift certificate for dinner out.
- Use the Internet to send a bouquet of flowers.
- Give a small rubber ball with this note: “Our kids are having a ball with you!”
- Have a “Root Beer Float Party” with kids as the hosts.
- Hand out mixed bags of Hershey’s Hugs® and Kisses®.
- Give a 100 Grand® candy bar with this note: “You’re worth 100 Grand to us!”
- Give a banana with this message: “Thanks bunches! We go bananas for your help!”
- At Christmas, give a festive mug with a candy cane and a packet of cocoa inside.
- Give a long-stemmed chocolate rose.
- Send a “cookie gram”-a giant cookie with “thanks” iced on it.
- Leave a plate of homemade cookies in each classroom.
- Fill plastic red apple containers with jelly bellies or sugarless candies. Give with this note: “You’re the apple of God’s eye!”
- Leave gold-wrapped chocolate coins or Hershey’s Kisses® with this note: “Your work with children is more precious than gold. Thanks!”
- Give each volunteer a gift certificate for a treat from Baskin-Robbins or TCBY.
- Give a package of M&M’s® with this note: “Thanks for sharing God’s Majesty & Might with our children!”
- 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.
- Give a pack of gum with this note: “Thanks for sticking with us!”
- Thank all volunteers with an children-hosted “After-Holidays Open House.” Serve appetizers and festive punch or hot apple cider.
- Allow children to plan a party for volunteers on a Sunday morning.
- Celebrate with a royal “Ambassador’s Dinner” since volunteers are ambassadors for Christ.
- Host a volunteers’ barbecue with special music and great steaks.
- Have a Volunteers’ Hallelujah Hop with kids singing Christian versions of ’50s music, Hula Hoop contests, and great desserts.
- Have a Volunteer Hallelujah Luau with an island-themed video of kids celebrating volunteers.
Training and Meetings
- Put a birthday hat, party blower, and streamer at each chair for a meeting. Serve birthday cake and celebrate everyone’s un-birthday.
- At your next meeting, surprise volunteers with party decorations. Then celebrate!
- Pay for volunteers to attend workshops that benefit their ministry.
- Include your volunteers’ top interests for speakers, meetings, or educational needs in training meetings.
- Get a massage therapist or nurse to give back rubs at a meeting.
- 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.
- Give great door prizes at meetings and celebrations.
- Check each classroom for basics such as crayons, felt markers, paper, Bibles, stapler, and scissors.
- Have parents decorate classroom doors.
- Enlist support teams to help teachers with baking, crafts, or music.
- Surprise each volunteer with a gift subscription to Children’s Ministry Magazine.
- Give a new book of holiday crafts, inspirational stories, picture books, or activity books.
- Develop a “Homeroom Parent” program to help teachers with tasks such as attendance, follow-up, encouragement, and snack preparation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Feature a teacher each month in your church bulletin, newsletter, or worship folder.
- Take slide pictures and/or make videos during the year for a Volunteer Appreciation Sunday.
- Reserve a special parking spot for the “Teacher of the Week.”
- Feature a different children’s ministry program on a bulletin board in the adult education area.
- Send out a “Volunteer Gram” each week with news and announcements. Include a big thank you to individual volunteers in each issue.
Other Ways to Say Thanks
- Set up a Sunday Siesta Section in a quiet room, stocked with flavored coffees and teas, bagels or muffins, and inspirational music.
- Design “coupon books” for volunteers, personalized with things you’ll do for them, such as “two hours of child care.”
- Make “Warm Fuzzies”-small, colorful pom-pom balls with wiggle eyes and paper feet. Place a “Warm Fuzzy” on each attendance folder.
- Use bright colored paper and tablet adhesive to make a computer-generated notepad for each volunteer.
- Give lapel pins that say thanks-a cross, a “Jesus” fish, an angel, or a “#1 Teacher” pin.
- Organize a car wash for volunteers’ cars. Have kids do all the work for free.
- Make a mural with candid shots of teachers and children.
Mary Van Aalsburg is a children’s minister in Fresno, California.
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