Focus On: Volunteers: Mind to Muscle to Money
Amnesty International periodically solicits Online Action Center volunteers via e-mail and includes them on its acquisition lists. “They’re one of the strongest responding lists that we handle,” Potter says.
“Many people think of themselves as members because they’re really doing the work,” she explains. “They write letters, participate at protests and so on. We’re just starting to develop a more intentional campaign to get those volunteers to become actual financial supporters.”
Not every nonprofit can use volunteers in a way that creates the sort of bonds you see at Habitat For Humanity locales, where the tie that binds is physical labor. But one key concept can be successfully applied at all nonprofits: The likelihood of a volunteer becoming a donor increases according to the amount of hands-on involvement the volunteer has in the organization.
“On the work site we can have anyone from the chairman of some company to the receptionist at another company to a low-ranking enlisted person in the military,” Anderegg says. “And all those people are equal when they come to the site. So it’s really our job to try and translate to those people that we need their support.”
Not just physical labor
Volunteer involvement can mean building a house or dressing a turkey, but more often it means making phone calls, sometimes for fundraising purposes. Amnesty International uses only professional telemarketers, but the situation is different at some Habitat for Humanity locales.
“Some of our board members and key volunteers [are put to work] making fundraising calls,” Anderegg explains.
Fundraising calls at the American Diabetes Association are done by telemarketers, DelGiorno says, except in cases where certain high-level volunteers are used to expedite major-gift initiatives.
“In general, those volunteers already have a relationship with a donor or a company,” she explains. “That relationship may be useful to help obtain the gift.”