Revised on February 25, 2008

Use Online Audio and Video to Say Thanks

Even older computer technology can be used to create short audio and video files that your organization can use to thank volunteers for their service. A short recording from your organization's executive director or board president, or from a client whose life has been positively affected by the efforts of volunteers or donors can mean a lot to your supporters, and is actually quite easy to produce.

Phil Shapiro notes: "The human voice carries with it unique communications powers. It's worth exploring how multimedia on the web can connect your project or organization in new ways with people who support it."

You don't even have to use moving video; still pictures with audio produces a nice effect and a smaller file that is quicker to download (which will be particularly appreciated by dial-up users).

Not sure where to begin? You could recruit a volunteer to assess your current computer technology to see if you already have the equipment necessary to make a short audio or video file. Or, recruit a volunteer who has this type of equipment themselves; for instance, an old Apple iBook or iMac and a digital camera is all a volunteer would need to make a short audio and video file that could be sent via email or available for download from your web site. Most new computer sold today come with all of the software and hardware (built in camera and microphone) you need to do this entirely via your desktop.

Mr. Shapiro noted in 2005 just how easy it is to create audio or video files to thank volunteers, and included examples of such (reprinted here with permission):

It's sometimes difficult to think of appropriate ways of thanking these people (volunteers and other supporters). A simple letter of thanks doesn't seem sufficient to the quantity and quality of help they give.

One way of thanking these folks is via multimedia on the web. It's possible to create a simple Quicktime movie that combines a digital photo of a person with an accompanying voice narration. The process of creating such a quicktime can actually be faster than writing a short note, especially if you have a digital photo of the person on hand already.

You can see some examples of such quicktime files at

If you don't have quicktime installed on your computer, you can download it for free from

If most of your volunteers are using computers that can access YouTube (older computers can't access the site), you can upload your videos there, to your own custom "channel", and direct your volunteers to such via email or a link from your web site.

Using Video to Support Online Volunteers/Remote Volunteers, which goes into greater detail about simple ways to use recorded and live video with volunteers.


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