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How to Celebrate National Volunteer Month in 2021

Author: Tatiana Morand
March 30, 2020
🕑 3 min read

“Volunteers are the heart of our organization!”

“Volunteers are the backbone of what we do!”

“We couldn’t do it without you, volunteers!”

Sometimes it seems like everything being said about the role of volunteers at nonprofits is cliché, but…it’s also true.

Without volunteers donating their time and passion to the causes they care about, most nonprofits would be sunk. Paid staff to tutor every kid, clean up every park, and foster every shelter dog? Impossible! Volunteers make it happen. That’s why every April, we take the time to celebrate volunteers and volunteering with National Volunteer Month and National Volunteer Week.

When is National Volunteer Month?

National Volunteer Month is held in April. It’s a month dedicated to promoting and celebrating volunteerism. Nonprofits often have special projects or volunteer appreciation events during this time.

When is National Volunteer Week?

In 2021, National Volunteer Week will be April 18-24 in Canada and the United States.

Since When?

National Volunteer Month and Week aren’t new. Canada led the way by celebrating National Volunteer Week in 1943 to recognize the contributions of women on the Home Front during World War II. Celebrations dropped off after the war, and then interest resurged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The April week of recognition was made official in 1990.

National Volunteer Week debuted in the United States in 1974 and has continued to grow every year since. In his proclamation declaring National Volunteer Week, President Richard Nixon urged all Americans to observe the week by seeking out a volunteer opportunity. He also called upon all communities to “recognize volunteers by observing the week with special ceremonies to honor those who have given countless hours for the betterment of our communities and the American way of life.”

Since then, individuals, offices, schools, and teams volunteer their time on this week to make their communities better.

How to Celebrate National Volunteer Week and Month in 2020

In previous years, National Volunteer Week and Month were a great opportunity to get all your volunteers together and launch efforts to recruit new ones.

In 2020, celebrating National Volunteer Week and Month will be different in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s keeping us all inside.

While normal ideas for volunteer events and appreciation won’t be possible due to social distancing and health concerns, you can still recognize and engage your volunteers. Keep things simple, and recognize that volunteering, and your organization, may not be top of mind for your volunteers at the moment.

There are plenty of ways to show volunteers you appreciate them without sharing the same physical space.


  • Sharing a video message from your executive director, commending volunteers
  • Hosting an online meetup to thank and encourage volunteers
  • Scheduling a one-on-one video or phone call with key volunteers to thank them for their contributions and ask for their ideas
  • Posting a volunteer slideshow on your social media, using pictures from previous events
  • Calling volunteers to check on them and say thank you

Read More:How to Write a Volunteer Thank-You Letter That’s Actually Meaningful (+ Template)

Volunteer Opportunities

While you may not be able to recruit volunteer teams from your local businesses and community this month, there may still be ways to engage volunteers. Browse through your volunteer management software and see if any volunteers have special skills or experience that jump out at you. Think about what can be done from home, like:

  • Designing templates, flyers, or social media graphics
  • Making phone calls to check-in with the people you serve
  • Organizing files or data in the cloud (how’s your photo library organized?)
  • Drafting, editing, and/or proofing documents
  • Launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for your organization
  • Helping with research

When you create online volunteering opportunities, you’re opening the door to many more potential volunteers, like people who don’t live nearby, disabled people, and people with busy schedules. That’s a benefit that will outlast this year’s special circumstances.

Celebrate Volunteerism

Now more than ever, people helping others is worth celebrating. Volunteers make so much possible and deserve our appreciation. How will you mark National Volunteer Month and Week at your organization?

Read More:Why You Might Need a Volunteer Newsletter + 3 Templates

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