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Leadership Monday: Leaders – Get to Know Their Volunteers

You always have a goal of growing your donor base and there are many ways of doing that which include marketing, social media, and special events. However, I find that many organizations overlook a source of donations that’s staring them in the face.

These are the people who organize your auctions or drive senior citizens to doctor’s appointments or load delivery vans or work in your thrift store or…by now, I’m sure you get the picture. Your best potential donors are your current volunteers.

Yes, volunteers are natural donors and 2 recent studies highlighted the connection between volunteering for and donating to an organization:

a 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy noted that 89% of wealthy individuals volunteered their time to nonprofits in 2011, an 11% increase over 2010. SI think it’s very important to note that, in general, the more time those individuals spent volunteering, the more they gave in overall donations. And here’s a tidbit for your data and research people to ponder over: those who volunteer more than 100 hours give about 2x as much as those who volunteer less than 100 hours ($78,000 vs. $39,000) and a higher % of wealthy Americans are contributing to the organizations where they also volunteer.

a study by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and Volunteer Match found that people who volunteers in 2009 donated more than 10x more money to charities than those who did not. In addition, nearly 70% of respondents said they typically make financial donations to the organizations for which they volunteer.

Tap into Volunteers

So, you’ve got volunteers who are primed for giving donations. They have shown a commitment to and belief in your organization or they wouldn’t be giving of their time, talent, and energy. But please don’t think that these volunteers giving to you is a shoe in. Volunteers also have shown themselves to be very careful about where they give their money. When they know their donations of time and money are being used wisely and for a cause they believe in, they are much more likely to give.

5 Ways to Add Volunteers, Improve Donations

Here are 5 ways to increase the number of volunteers AND POTENTIAL DONORS to your organization:

  1. Make it easy to volunteer. Break tasks down into smaller time periods rather than all-day commitments. Allow people to help no matter where they are (office, home), rather than just your location.

  2. Many volunteers hesitate to commit, thinking once they say,”Yes,” they’ll be trapped. Take the pressure off by accepting whatever time they can give.

  3. Think groups. People like to volunteer with other people their age. Also, think about recruiting church groups or local sports teams. Make it enjoyable and rewarding and they’ll volunteer again and again.

  4. Tell people you need volunteers. Don’t keep it a secret. Be specific in what you’re asking for. For example, blog out that you need 3 volunteers for one hour starting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday to help load your delivery van. People will know exactly what they’re committing to that way.

  5. Reach out to local employers who are often looking for ways to involve their workers in community giving (community colleges do this very well).

In the end, it’s really simple. The more volunteers you have, the more potential donors you have. It may seem like asking too much to solicit donations from volunteers, but studies show that your volunteers are already more inclined to give much more than those who don’t volunteer.

Do you have any bits of wisdom you can share on how you transition volunteers into becoming donors? Please share with us here.

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