Have you ever misplaced something valuable, only to find it sitting in plain view, right where you left it?

The same situation can happen with donors, not noticing the potential for additional giving with one core group – volunteers.  While you may think that there is a fine line to walk in asking volunteers to give, and that is true to some extent, often times you’re missing out on a group that is willing to be more invested and engaged with your organization.  It’s all in how you go about the process.

And note, this is not just a conversion of volunteer to donor! You certainly don’t want to lose their operational support when you consider that the current estimated value of one volunteer hour is $23.56. Rather, what you’re doing is cultivating a relationship, bringing them closer to your mission by offering additional opportunities to have a greater impact.

Traditionally, if someone is willing to share their time, they’re also interested in contributing in other ways. Certainly organizations should consider timing and have a plan in place to nurture this relationship. Here are some ideas to jumpstart your planning.

  1. Maximize the opportunity of volunteer orientations.  Yes, share your handbook, protocols and procedures. But also use this time to genuinely welcome people as critical members of your community. Provide specific examples of how their time and resources impact your mission.  Don’t be afraid to let them know how important financial support is, and in what ways they can give.
  2. Use your CRM to create, automate and personalize ongoing communications.  With a little communications planning, you can make it easy to maintain a dialogue with your volunteers.  Scheduling specific communications that ask volunteers to stay engaged with your organization can make that volunteer-to-donor relationship bloom!  Create a series of messages to:
    • Thank them for their time.
    • Connect with them on social media.  Ask them to spread the word on their own social media!
    • Attend events.
    • Highlight new opportunities to get involved.
  3. Create a welcome committee comprised of a staff member, donor, Board member, and volunteer. Task them with “onboarding” new volunteers, beyond the volunteer orientation.  Have them conduct individual, personal outreach.  For example, ask each committee member to email a new volunteer inviting them to a fundraising event.  Or a Board member reaches out by phone to thank new volunteers, sharing a personal experience as a member of your organization’s community. We all dread those formal networking events, but how easy and natural would it be if a Board member at the organization you just started volunteering for invited you for coffee or connected with you via email?  The volunteer immediately feels welcomed and appreciated, and part of something special.
  4. Volunteer coordinators should identify people who may be interested in fundraising or donating. This should already be a responsibility for this staff member because he or she knows the skills, talents and interests of your volunteers.  Have the coordinator survey volunteers for interest in other opportunities.
  5. Seek fundraising suggestions from your volunteers.  Just as much as your donors, volunteers look for an organization’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and sound funding. A volunteer may offer a great suggestion and then offer to help with the initiative.  You won’t know until you ask!
  6. FITSY: Facebook – Instagram – Twitter – Snapchat – YouTube.  Get digital and don’t ignore the power of social media.  Express the need for financial support through social media, using visuals and text, testimonials and stories, to lend an emotional connection.  Use creative hashtags to show the fun side of your nonprofit.
  7. Make giving affordable.  *Multiple, small donations add up over time.  Have a younger volunteer corps?  Explain exactly what a monthly $10 donation means to your organization. Maybe it buys a weekly bus pass for someone at your shelter.  Whatever its value, be explicit in demonstrating that.  

As you strategize your relationship building, gratitude should inform your work with volunteers.  Be grateful, and thank them often for their time and support.  If you consistently demonstrate appreciation in their relationship with your organization, volunteers are likely to return the favor through a steady show of support.

*Connect with CaringCent to learn how small change can mean big impact for your organization!