6 Incentives for Volunteers (No Cash Required)

In Building Community by Emily CedarLeave a Comment

It’s sometimes difficult to determine whether you need to hire a few paid employees to help with a big event, or simply rely on the kind, generous hearts of community volunteers. In some cases, the budget determines the answer to this dilemma, and you are left with one option – volunteers. So, how do you properly thank these individuals that donate their time, resources, and brain power to making your event a hit? Here are some incentives for volunteers that won’t break your bank or add to any event planning stress.

1. Discount Tickets Prior to Event 
Providing volunteers with a discount code to use when buying tickets online or even a complimentary ticket is at the top of the list for obvious reasons. If a volunteer is investing time and resources in your event, they are clearly interested in what your event has to offer and will likely want to attend!

2. Discount Tickets (Same Day)
If it’s an event like Earthwork Harvest Gathering Music Festival, volunteers show up the day before or day of the festival to greet guests, serve food, clean, and run the merch booth. In exchange for working a couple volunteer shifts over the course of the three day festival, Earthwork refunds the full ticket price after the shift is completed. I’ve volunteered at this event for the last two years, and volunteer time slots fill up months in advance because attendees are so excited to help this cause and meet other like-minded music lovers.

3. Volunteer Social Events
A fun get together doesn’t require renting a snazzy and expensive banquet hall, or a chocolate fondue fountain (although that would be nice). Most people, especially volunteers, are content with a social outing that gets the group together to de-stress, mingle, and just have a good time. This can easily be achieved by inviting everyone to a happy hour or trivia meet-up at a local pub, a chill outdoor activity like kayaking or hiking, or even a potluck at a team member’s home. Finding a way to build a community within your volunteer team is essential for boosting moral and teamwork.

4. Thoughtful, Unique Awards
Cody Bailey from Hush Haunted Attractions suggests giving out fun and thoughtful awards to volunteers in this post. He selects volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to receive cool, custom made Hush themed trophies at the end of each event season. Your awards don’t have to be custom made, but they should be thoughtful and creative.


5. Brag About Achievements
 Post on social media, write a blog article, or find some way to publicize the amazing work your volunteers are doing. Although this might require a little extra writing or pulling a few strings, praising group or individual accomplishments will pay off in the long-run. People enjoy feeling appreciated and are more likely to do great work for people that acknowledge their awesomeness. This leads me to my favorite and final point…

6. A Handwritten Thank You Note
Yes, you read that line correctly and no, you do not need new glasses. There is big power behind a handwritten letter. This underdog concept not only demonstrates that you recognize and appreciate what volunteers do for your business, but also works as positive reinforcement to encourage repeat behavior. People underestimate the power of gratitude. An email is easily ignored or lost, a phone call can turn into phone tag, but a letter is non-invasive and hard to overlook.