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Professional Fundraising Certificate Program

First Name Volunteer, Last Name Donor

Does your organization have volunteers?  I bet that you do.  I was recently reviewing Fidelity Charitable’s “Time and Money: the Role of Volunteering in Philanthropy”. I noticed that 79 percent of Fidelity’s charitable donors have volunteered their time to organizations in the past year.  This got me thinking — how much do volunteers factor into our development strategy?  Do we think about the opportunity of the volunteer becoming a donor from the outset or does that tend to be an afterthought?  I would say that for many organizations it is an afterthought.  We regularly highlight the hours that an individual volunteers but do not highlight their financial support.  What is worse, some organizations see their volunteers as being “off-limits” for fundraising because they are “already doing so much.”

At the highest level of an organization, the board level, we have gotten better at utilizing those volunteer roles as a way to bring individuals closer to the organization and help them become more invested in its success.  The best boards have clear giving expectations when a person joins the board, and they regularly remind the board members to make their gifts.  As we go down the organization though, we tend to be less explicit.  Many organizations have hundreds of volunteers delivering the service of the nonprofit, and traditionally the organizations are not as clear about the giving component of those volunteer relationships.

Have you ever considered matching your volunteer recruitment cycle to your fundraising cycle?  I would suggest starting your annual volunteer recruitment efforts towards the end of summer.  For most of us, we still associate the beginning of the school year with new activities and priorities.  Be explicit in your recruitment that your organization has a goal of 100 percent philanthropic support for your volunteers.  Remember that you should ask individuals for a gift of personal significance, which allows for those who have fewer resources to be supportive at levels that are comfortable for them.  For the organizations that do have an expectation that their volunteers give, the solicitation usually begins and ends with the expectation, but if you recruit in the fall, you have until the end of the calendar year to solicit your non-donors.  With that important giving time of year and the associated messaging, you have good reason to be asking your volunteers for their financial support without coming across as unappreciative of their gift of time.

Not having a solicitation plan for your volunteers is leaving money on the table.  These are individuals who know the work of your organization best and likely have some of the highest affinity for what you do.  It is easy for someone to connect the feeling of volunteering to the financial need of sustaining the organization, but it is hard for them to do this if they are not asked.

#ProfessionalFundraising, #BostonUniversity, #VolunteerManagment, #Moredonors