Five Keys to Successfully Involve Volunteers in Fundraising

Involving volunteers in nonprofit fundraising can be challenging and at times downright tricky, especially with the recent decline in the volunteer rate. This makes it all the more important to identify the right volunteers and have strategies in place to retain them. To be successful involving volunteers in fundraising, organizations should consider these key factors:

  • Select the right volunteer for the right job:  Volunteers want to participate in activities in which they are comfortable and will achieve success.  Volunteers can participate in a variety of fundraising activities, including annual campaigns, special events, major gift or capital campaigns or corporate and foundation relations.
  • Provide the volunteer with the tools and training they need for success: It is the staff person or consultant’s job to make certain the volunteer’s job is achievable by providing the needed resources.  Volunteers should be trained in the art and science of fundraising.  Consider inviting volunteer fundraisers to attend industry conferences as well as providing your own, internal training and policies.
  • Involve the volunteer in meaningful, productive activities: No volunteer wants to do “busy work;” get an intern to do that.  Help your volunteers feel good by giving them impactful opportunities.  When volunteers see the genuine difference they can make, they will continue to be passionate ambassadors for your mission.
  • Track volunteer activities and provide assistance when needed: Volunteers cannot be trained and forgotten.  Staff must monitor their activities and assess when they need support and when they need assistance or reassignment.
  • Steward volunteers appropriately: Your volunteers may not want a lot of public recognition, but they do want to be thanked appropriately.  A personalized thank you, lunch with a member of the leadership team, a volunteer recognition event, and/or ongoing communications about the impact of their work will go a long way towards securing support and growing relationships.

If all of this sounds like a big investment of time and resources, you may be wondering, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to do it myself?”  The answer to that is “maybe.”  It may well be easier to do it yourself, but it will not be as effective.  Volunteers bring some special qualities to the table that we as professional staff cannot compete with. They provide:

  • Credibility for the organization just because they are unpaid “volunteers”
  • Peer networks that are all potential supporters of our organizations
  • Skills and talents from other areas of their lives, like business and professional certifications
  • Creativity and enthusiasm that can breathe new life into your operations

Below are resources to help get you started on successfully involving volunteers:

Download Growing Individual Gifts: An Analytic Approach to Data-Driven Success more information on engaging volunteers.

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