I have volunteered since high school and worked with volunteers and in non-profits since 1999. I know that not every volunteer is an altruistic saint, but I do know that many key endeavors never get off the ground without the assistance of volunteers. For 8 years I worked with a committee of passionate, opinionated, stressed-out and dedicated volunteers to pull off a $20,000 conference. My key volunteers won local, state and national awards. They stayed with me during thick and thin. I believe it was because I never hesitated to show my gratitude.
Volunteers are really the inspiration behind my new book, Thanks! 100 Wonderful Ways to Appreciate Volunteers. This book offers 100 ways (obviously) to thank volunteers for their contributions in ways that acknowledge their unique identities. From individuals to groups, from eco-conscious to total techies, there are great ways to show appreciation.
I started working on this book years ago when I kept a messy file on creative ways to say thanks. When it came time to write the book, each suggestion conjured up great memories of special people. But I also reached out to my extended community of friends and connections for their suggestions. And they were happy to volunteer their opinions. I also asked for a volunteer to review and edit the manuscript. It wasn't hard to get help, because I had a reputation of giving respect and appreciation.
I decided to finally turn my collection of ideas into a book back in August 2011. I had the final manuscript formatted, revised and copyrighted by May 2012. But it didn't go live until March 2013, just in time for Volunteer Appreciation Month, held every year in April. It's a lengthy process but a fulfilling one.
The real challenges on this project came with using technology to put together a simple book that would provide straightforward guidance. I composed the original document in a variety of formats. I tried a grid approach, an icon-based list, and finally settled on the chapter designations that you see in this final book.
Making this book available for a variety of e-readers required learning a few tricks, but it's astonishing how many people have shared - voluntarily- their expertise and experiences. I'd also be happy to pay-it-forward and share what I've learned about iBooks Author, Pages, publishing on iTunes and for Kindle. In the spirit of volunteering and showing gratitude, it's the least I can do!