Simple Thank You Gifts

Volunteers are often a vital part of your conference or event team. From registration to greeting guests, from providing directions to selling merchandise, volunteers can fill important voids for various tasks.

While there are larger incentives you can provide for volunteers (discounted program and housing fees, free t-shirts and other merchandise, etc.), there are ways you can encourage your team throughout the event, as well.

The last time I volunteered at a conference, each day I was given a little “something” thanking me for my service. These were very small, low cost items (typically a food item of some sort) with a clever note attached, left for me at the location I was working.

While these “thank you” gifts might take some time to assemble, many of them can be done well ahead of the conference. The time and effort put forth to create these little extras can help encourage your volunteers as they work throughout the conference. As you prepare these, you can purchase individually wrapped candy/snacks or put unwrapped items in a plastic bag sealed with the note.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Thanks for being an EXTRAordinary volunteer! (Extra gum)
  • You are a LIFESAVER! Thank you! (Lifesaver candy)
  • We MINT to tell you how much we appreciate you! (Any type of mints)
  • It’s been such a TREAT to have you as a volunteer! (Works with any type of snack)
  • Without your help we would have fallen to PIECES! Thank you! (Reese’s Pieces candy)
  • We would be in KNOTS without you! (Bag of pretzels)
  • It’s “o-FISH-al”! You are a great volunteer! (Bag of Goldfish crackers or Swedish Fish candy)
  • Volunteers like you are worth 100 GRAND! (100 Grand candy bars)
  • Just POPPING in to say thanks for all your hard work! (Bag of popcorn)
  • It’s been MOUNDS of fun serving with you! (Mounds candy bars)

Simple yet thoughtful gifts can go a long way in showing your appreciation. Let your creativity shine as you prepare these small thank you items for your event volunteers.

Using Volunteers And Interns At Your Event

As you get closer to your event’s date, stress for your whole team goes up. Lots of last minute tasks get put on your to-do list. What’s a great way to help get you and your team’s last minute tasks completed? Add volunteers and/or interns to help.

Let’s start with volunteers.

Volunteers can be a great way to utilize free help.  How do you find these people?  Put out a call on your event’s website, through social media or at your event for help.  Fans will typically be willing to step up and help wherever and however needed.

How do you pay these people?  Most will be happy to work for free, but one way you could pay them is with free swag.  A t-shirt, hat or free piece of product can go a long way.  If you really wanted to go out, you could offer free or half off admittance to your event.

Volunteers can have a wide age range.

Now let’s take a look at interns.  Interns are another great way to utilize free help.  This group is probably working towards college credit, and is in that age range.  View this group as your Timothy’s.  They probably want to be like you when they “grow up.”  The interns that I’ve worked with I’ve always tried to include in every day-to-day meeting and have made them be a part of the company.

The great thing about interns is they’re not looking for pay because the college credit is enough.  But again treat them right, give them some swag and make them apart of your event.

One thing to remember: our goal here is to help alleviate stress.  As you add volunteers and interns, you’ll want to look for self-starters that can dive in and take the bull by the horns.

Have you used volunteers or interns for your event?  How have they helped with your last minute tasks?

How's Your Service?

Over dinner with friends last week, I learned about a new guest service initiative our church will be launching over Easter weekend. The desire is for our volunteers to be much more intentional in delivering great customer service and making people feel welcome.

As we talked about what that should like, it was pretty obvious that customer service training was going to be needed. In putting together some customer service material for us to use, I came across a personal blog post I wrote last year. While the post was directed towards those operating a service related business, the basics can also be applied to churches and ministries.

Hopefully you will find this post, 5 Guest Service Tips For Leaders, helpful.

For any service industry business, customer service is what it’s all about. You can have a great product, an awesome camp setting, a beautiful store or a state of the art conference center, but if you don’t have good customer service your business will never be as successful as it could be. The primary focus has to be on the customer.

With this mind, here are 5 tips leaders can follow to ensure their customer/guest service is where it needs to be:

  • The quality of customer service your organization provides cannot exceed the quality of those providing the service. Great customer service is provided by people, not systems. Invest in your staff with fair wages and benefits and above all, training. Systems don’t serve people, people do.
  • Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. Employees follow their leader. If you’re short and rude with them, they’ll be more likely to be short and rude with your customers. Do you enthusiastically greet your staff each day? Are you polite with them? Do you listen to them? Consistently poor customer service is more a reflection of management than it is of the employees.
  • Know who your customers are. When a returning camper comes into your lodge, do you recognize them? What about their parents, can you call out to them by name? Everyone loves to hear their own name. Remembering a customer’s name is a great way to show how much you value their business.
  • Make sure your customers know who you are. Do your guests/customers/campers and parents know who you are? No, this is not an ego thing. Being visible and accessible to your customers is important. Don’t be like the mystery sales manager at a car dealership. You know, that invisible person who keeps telling your salesman what price they can sell you the car for. Instead, be more like the airline pilot greeting all of his passengers as they leave the plane. People want to know they have access to the person in charge.
  • At every opportunity, ask your customers what they think of your service. Make it easy for your guests to give their feedback. Comment cards at the check out counter or in the guest room, electronic surveys and/or paper surveys are all ok. Ask them what they like; what they don’t like; what you could improve, would they recommend your facility, etc. Be sure to thank them when they take the time to give you their feedback.

As the leader, you set the tone for customer service. So, get out of your office and mingle with your employees and customers. You’ll be pleased to see the positive results and you just might have a little more fun at the same time!

Curious, as a church or ministry leader, how do you see these guest service principles applying to your church or ministry?