Connecting your volunteers to your organizational needs and goals is important work; volunteers, including the board, are a key to significantly increasing your fundraising outcomes. However, keeping your volunteers engaged and feeling like they are making a meaningful contribution can be challenging.
Effective volunteer engagement cannot happen without the right support structure in place. Meeting structure, technology, administrative support and follow up are key foundational pieces that need to be in place to inspire the most engagement. Other key components of volunteer engagement in fundraising include advocating for your organization, providing guidance, establishing connection of your organization with potential supporters, and raising money. Understanding the role of fundraising volunteers is crucial to utilizing them towards to achieve organizational goals.
The Four Roles of Fundraising Volunteers
Donor Intelligence: Nonprofits need to know the community of donors well to grow their donor base. Volunteers can help the organization learn more about their existing donors and provide input on donor prospects. The more detail about preferences, connections, and history the board and other volunteers can provide, the better a nonprofit is able to treat the donors like the individuals that they are.
Inviting the Donors: We all are drawn to organizations that someone we know introduced to us. Based on what is known about donors and donor prospects, volunteers can invite them to the appropriate events or cultivation activities. This can include luncheons, galas, tours, and also donor specific events designed to further engage them in the mission like one-on-one coffee get togethers or house parties.
Thanking the Donors: Adding personalized thank yous to your stewardship process is a simple but very effective way to cultivate donor relations and to increase their giving. Volunteers can play an important role by making thank you calls or sending personal notes to donors who have made significant gifts or attended events.
Asking for Gifts: Asks made by a volunteer are sometimes the most effective! There may be times when a volunteer is the best person to make an ask, either for sponsorship of an event or in a face-to-face setting. Sometimes, even having a volunteer in the room while the ask is made can make the difference needed to secure the gift.
Getting the Most Out of Meetings
When meeting with your volunteers, include opportunities to engage volunteers by sharing successes or inspiring stories that relate to your organization or board in some way. That being said – only have meetings together when there is news to share or work to do! Prepare for the meeting so that it includes a variety of speakers, and make sure you have time to follow up with those who were unable to attend (or encourage other attending volunteers to help with contacting non-attendees!)
Structure for Success
Your fundraising volunteers, board members, and committees must have a clear structure in place for them to be successful. Setting clear goals for the group and for each volunteer will make sure everyone knows their role. If they feel as if they can no longer serve on a committee, listen to them and try to find another way to engage them in a way they can continue their support. Most of all… when it comes to interacting with your volunteers, don’t forget to have some fun and celebrate your achievements together!