Focus On: Volunteers: Mind to Muscle to Money
The ‘feel good’ experience
Joanne DelGiorno, managing director of direct response marketing for the American Diabetes Association, makes a similar point with regard to people who do advocacy work for diabetes research — writing letters to politicians, making phone calls and so on.
“The more a person gets involved in an organization and has that ‘feel good’ experience, the more it will draw them into the cause,” she says.
Both Anderegg and DelGiorno articulate basic truths about human nature. Many, if not most, people who volunteer like to be able to measure the extent of their own contributions, which is why volunteering to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless is such a popular activity. Plus, people are sometimes likely to be even more generous if they feel like they’re genuinely helping someone.
For DelGiorno, the proof is in the numbers. The ADA, which is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, has found that making direct mail appeals for contributions is especially effective when soliciting people who have done advocacy work for the organization.
In lieu of lists
“[Volunteers] help us save money in acquisition because we don’t have to buy lists of names of possible donors,” DelGiorno explains. “We already have the names of people who have some connection with diabetes. Their response rates are sometimes triple of what a cold list is in acquisition.”
Vivianne Potter, director of direct response at Amnesty International’s New York office, says fundraisers at her organization draw on a list of people who volunteer for the Online Action Center, a program on the Amnesty Web site that allows citizens to access politicians and other officials.
“In a sense, they’re volunteers,” Potter explains. “You can sign up for the Online Action Center whether you’re a member of Amnesty (or a donor) or not. We have a program in place where we attempt to convert people who are Action Center people into donors or members.”