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Your Volunteers Love You: Why Not Ask Them to Give?

Last week was National Volunteer Week. I’m in awe of the power of volunteerism. I see the difference it makes in our world every single day. For example, I happen to live in a rural area that depends upon an all-volunteer fire department.

Volunteers are the nonprofit sector’s dearest and most devoted friends. But some organizations are fearful of asking their volunteers to give financial donations, worried that they’ll offend by asking too much.

If this describes you, I ask you to reconsider. After all, aren’t your best prospects those people who show the most passion for your cause?

If your organization already encourages your volunteers to give talent AND treasure, congratulations!

But, there is a pervasive attitude among many executives, board members and even fundraising professionals that people should give time OR money, not both. That volunteers are somehow off-limits for fundraising.

If you’re not asking your volunteers to donate, you are probably missing an important opportunity to engage them more deeply with your organization.

Research shows that people like to give where they volunteer. According to a report from Fidelity, 87 percent of volunteers say there is an overlap between their volunteer and financial support. Half of them say they give more because they volunteer.

Fundraising is about offering people the opportunity to tangibly express their values. Why wouldn’t you give your volunteers that opportunity?

Of course, if you’re not already asking your volunteers for financial donations, you’ll want to be careful not to “shock the system.”

We recommend you engage volunteers in developing a thoughtful approach to launching a volunteer fundraising initiative. Bring together a task force of volunteers and staff to brainstorm the issue and create a plan.

It may be that your volunteers get excited about supporting the general operating fund. On the other hand, they might be more motivated to support a specific initiative that supports a program to which they’re closely connected. Or perhaps a fund named in honor of someone they admire or care deeply about.

The bottom line is that your volunteers know what moves them most and can guide you in creating a thoughtful strategy for asking them to give of their financial resources as well as their time.

Photo credit: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

1 Comment

  1. Ann, you excellent post is a great reminder that volunteers are a valuable resource for nonprofit organizations, both in terms of talent and treasure. I want to underscore your point about the potential for volunteer giving. When it comes to making a gift in a Will (Charitable Bequest), philanthropy researcher Dr. Russell James found that volunteers are just as likely as cash donors to make a legacy gift. Furthermore, those who volunteer AND donate cash are more than twice as likely to make a legacy gift compared to those who do only one or the other. In other words, volunteers should be asked to make current AND legacy gifts.

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