Thoughtful Meals for Your Volunteers

tacoVolunteers are the most effective resources you can utilize for your nonprofit fundraisers. While they put in their hard work and time for your well revered cause, it’s important for you to remember to acknowledge their efforts. Some volunteers like thank you notes. Some like that extra large free shirt with your logo on it. But, all of them love free food!

While you may not have the budget to provide your volunteers with the same high caliber multi-course meal that you are providing your attendees, you can still wow your v-team with a variety of styles of food and drink to express your gratitude.


Pick a theme and keep it simple. Italian: a large chafing dish of pasta, a mixed salad with croutons and dressings on the side, garlic bread as a side, and a platter of assorted cookies. It’ll provide energy and sustenance for your runners, and if you use disposable serviceware, you can ensure the cleanup will be quick and easy.

To complete the theme, set up an Italian Soda station, with ice, soda water, and a handful of flavored syrups.

Tip, bottled water should be at the ready to make sure your team stays hydrated.

Box It Up-

If you’ve got rotating in and out times, or if you’re tight on space, providing individual boxed lunches is a great way to feed the troops. Order simple varieties of sandwiches like turkey and swiss, or ham and cheddar,  that come with chips, cookie and soda. Avoid obtrusive flavors that may attract unwanted aromatic attention like tuna, pesto, or onion. Your volunteers can label their individual box and nibble when they find down time, not having to worry about somebody eating the wrong plate of food, having it sit unattended for an hour, and you won’t have a tall stack of dirty plates at the end of the night.

‘Build Your Own’ Station

If you want to appeal to the discerning volunteer who has food sensitivities, create a ‘build your own’ food station, so your team can make their own little meal with the fixins’ you’ve provided. Think a salad bar or a burrito bowl bar. Be mindful to have options that even a vegan, gluten, dairy free person can consume just as much as the meat eater who piles sour cream on everything.

An easy way to establish what option may be the easiest and most effective for your team is to mention in your correspondence that you will be providing food. If you know what you are serving, let them know, so they can prepare an alternative if they’re not interested. If you ask for an RSVP on food, you’ll engage your volunteers to respond with any food issues they have. Plus, you’ll have a firm idea on a headcount, so you can minimize your budget and hopefully not waste any food.

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