A common mistake that most nonprofit organizations make
is separating their volunteers and donors into two different boxes. There are likely two different departments within your organization that manage these two groups. But your best donors might be right in front of you, and you could be ignoring their potential.
According to data from the 2016 International AFP Conference, the average volunteer is four times more likely to donate than someone not involved in the organization. In general, people who volunteer their time are more likely to donate money to charity. Once someone sees the internal workings and gains thorough knowledge of an organization, they tend to understand the financial needs and the impact their dollars can make.
If you don’t find the above statements true in your organization, then you need to create a volunteer segment within your donor strategy to encourage and support donor giving and not miss out on this fundraising opportunity. Below are five steps to help you get started.
- Volunteer Orientation: As soon as day one of involvement, a volunteer should know what your organization does, whom it helps and what are the growth goals. This includes the fundraising goals. The most concise and practical way to do this is through a volunteer orientation. Illustrate during orientation the benefit both time and money provides your organization. By keeping volunteers aware of what is happening within your organization, you are opening doors to all the opportunities available for their contribution.
- Memorable Volunteer Experience: In order to create a memorable volunteer experience, you have to treat your volunteers as individuals. Spend time getting to know why they are interested in your organization. If you ensure communication channels are open and the measure and value of their time is recognized, and you express to them how important their service is, you will pique their interest and leave them wondering “what else can I do to help with this organization?”
- Thank You: A thank you will go a long way, showing your appreciation will go even further. But what exactly does that mean? Give them the data – what does 20 hours a month of volunteer time mean to the organization? Does it mean 10 more children can attend camp? Does it mean a marketing project took less time because of the extra hands that helped move it forward? Or does it mean that your annual walk could expand by 10% and ultimately raise more money. Let them know specific impacts their time had within the organization and thank them with that data. Again, if you let them know what their time did, you introduce the idea of “what else can I do?”
- Volunteer Segmentation: Like your donor database is segmented, your volunteer database should have segmentation based on involvement with your organization. Examples of segments can include: length of time with organization, annual amount of time given to organization, programs the volunteer is involved with, etc. And just like your segmented communication efforts to donors based on their involvement with your organization, the same communication efforts should exist based on your volunteer database. Talk to them as individuals based on their involvement with your organization.
- The Ask: The number one reason that people give to nonprofit organizations? They are asked. This holds true with your volunteers. Plus, as we shared earlier in this post, they are four times more likely to give than someone who does not volunteer. And now that you have educated them, inspired them, thanked them and organized them into a segmented database for communication, go ahead and ask them to make a donation!
When an individual dedicates and donates their time to a cause, it is in the best interest of the organization to recognize the interest of their volunteers and take time to cultivate them. You have in front of you everyday, people who care a lot about the success of your mission, and if given the right tools, will not only give their time but likely money to help achieve those mission goals.