5 Strategies to Turning Corporate Donors Into Volunteers
In addition to dedicated donors, every nonprofit needs a team of volunteers to help with day-to-day tasks, fundraising events and moving their mission forward in a positive way. The truth is finding passionate volunteers can be just as difficult as acquiring new donors. But luckily for you, your organization already has a base of supporters who can turn into volunteers: your corporate donors!
Corporate donors who have submitted matching gift requests in the past are more likely to volunteer for your organization, especially if they know that their corporation provides additional incentives like volunteer grants.
In this article, we’ll show you how to successfully turn your corporate donors into volunteers using five essential strategies:
- Promote volunteer grants along with matching gifts.
- Rely on your donor database to identify potential volunteers.
- Let corporate donors know about volunteer opportunities.
- Start with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
- Acknowledge your donors’ support.
Each strategy will help you encourage donors to volunteer, as well as promote corporate philanthropy programs to get even more support. Let’s get started!
1. Promoting Volunteer Grants Along With Matching Gifts
If your organization is familiar with matching gift programs, then you’re probably aware of volunteer grant programs. These programs allow organizations to receive monetary donations from their volunteers’ employees.
The amount of money that your organization can receive depends on the program and how much time your volunteers donate. For instance, Microsoft awards organizations $25 for every hour an employee volunteers. Plus, each employee can have up to $15,000 in grants per year!
Check out even more examples of volunteer grants on Double the Donation.
By getting corporate donors to volunteer, you’re not only benefitting from their time, but also their employers’ monetary support.
Since your corporate donors are already submitting matching gift requests, they’re more likely to request for a volunteer grant if they donate their time.
In addition to helping your organization, volunteer grants can be a great incentive to encourage donors to give their time.
Think about it: If a donor knows that their volunteer hours can result in a donation at no additional cost to them, they’ll be more willing to donate their time.
Just like with matching gifts, the main challenge around volunteer grants is that many people don’t know they exist. Let donors know about volunteer grant opportunities by:
- Mentioning volunteer grant programs when you’re asking donors to volunteer.
- Posting about volunteer grants on your social media accounts.
- Including information about volunteer grants on your website’s volunteer sign-up page.
If you already know where your corporate donors work, you can also send them an email with specific information about their company’s volunteer grant program.
Bottom line: Ultimately, there are endless ways you can promote volunteer grants, and they can easily be promoted alongside matching gift programs.
2. Rely on Your Donor Database to Identify Potential Volunteers
While many organizations use prospect research to pinpoint major donors, you can use a similar process to identify potential volunteers using your donor database.
Whether you have a large customizable CRM or are culling donor data from your fundraising software, it’s likely that you have a lot of information on your donor’s interests and past interactions with your organization.
Use this information to your advantage to find corporate donors that more likely to accept an invitation to volunteer.
When looking for potential volunteers, consider the following key factors:
- Past giving history. Supporters who have given regular donations in the past might be interested in learning about other ways they can support your cause, especially if it gives them an opportunity to learn more about your mission and help others in the process.
- Participation in events. If a donor has attended one of your fundraising events or participated in an online fundraiser, like a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, it’s a sign that they may be interested in volunteering.
- Interests and skills. Sometimes, your organization will need skill-based volunteers that can help with your social media and perform administrative tasks. Asking donors with the specific skills or interests the role requires could motivate your donors to volunteer.
While we can’t guarantee that donors with these factors will volunteer, these supporters have shown that they’re interested in your organization and may make the move to donate their time
Of course, identifying potential donors isn’t effective unless your donor data is up-to-date and organized. Make sure that your constituent profiles include data on your donors’ giving history, as well as notes from your interactions with each donor.
Any and all information about your donors can be useful when determining if a support would be interested in volunteering.
Bottom line: The best way to gain volunteers is to pinpoint donors that are good candidates for volunteer opportunities. That way, when it’s time to ask for help, you already have a list of donors to reach out to first.
3. Let Corporate Donors Know About Volunteer Opportunities
Just like how your organization is proactive in asking for donations, you need to be diligent about asking donors to volunteer.
By sharing volunteer opportunities on a regular basis, you can let donors know that you need help. Plus, it puts volunteering in the front of their minds when they’re looking for ways to support your cause.
Before you start sharing your volunteer opportunities with donors, it’s important that your volunteer time managed correctly. You don’t want to ask for just 10 volunteers for your next fundraising event when you actually need 20.
Make sure you have an effective volunteer management plan in place, and then start promoting your volunteer opportunities in the following ways:
- Create a page on your nonprofit’s website where you can publish a list of volunteer opportunities.
- Ask supports to volunteer for fundraising events via your social media accounts and your nonprofit’s newsletter (if you have one).
- Post opportunities on volunteer recruitment sites like VolunteerMatch, Idealist and Create the Good.
- Send emails that ask donors to volunteer using the knowledge you gained from the last section on identifying potential volunteers.
- Mention volunteering in your thank-you letters as another way for donors to get involved in your organization.
The more places you share your volunteer opportunities, the more opportunities you have to reach interested donors.
But don’t just rely on spreading the word far and wide; it’s also about how you ask supporters to volunteer.
Let them know that volunteering plays an important role in realizing your nonprofit’s mission.
When you ask donors to volunteer, provide them with examples, including testimonials from volunteers and the people you serve, as a way to show them how rewarding volunteering can be.
If you want more inspiration on how to create a compelling volunteer request, check out Fundly’s examples of fundraising letters.
Bottom line: Donors won’t know you need volunteers unless you tell them! Use a variety of outlets to get the word out and make sure that you tell donors why volunteering their time is so important to your nonprofit.
4. Start With a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign
The best way to get donors to volunteer is to ease them into the idea of donating their time, and there’s no better way to that than with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
With peer-to-peer fundraising, donors agree to fundraise on your nonprofit’s behalf. As a result, they’ll create a fundraising page and ask their friends and family to make contributions.
Generally, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign ends in an event like a marathon where the fundraisers celebrate all the money they were able to raise.
Nonprofits that host a peer-to-peer fundraising event will be able to recruit fundraisers that may make great volunteers in the future.
Donors that are willing to take the time to fundraise on your behalf are probably just as likely to participate in your next volunteer opportunity.
Plus, there is a lot of incentive for corporate donors to participate in these types of events because some corporations will donate to a fundraiser’s campaign if they reach a certain amount of funds.
Additionally, seeing how your campaign is run gives donors a sneak peek into how you manage volunteers (or in this case, fundraisers), so it’s important that you put your best foot forward.
Show your donors you can be trusted to manage fundraisers by setting them up for success using these four best practices:
- Provide donors with templates on asking for donations that can be published on social media or sent via email.
- Set up a webinar before the launch of your campaign that guides participants through the process of making their website.
- Check in with fundraisers during your campaign to provide assistance and help them reach their goal.
If fundraisers finish your peer-to-peer campaign with a good impression, they may look at other ways they can support your organization like volunteering!
Bottom line: Ease corporate volunteers into the idea of volunteering by asking them to participate in a peer-to-peer campaign. That way, supporters can experience donating their time to your cause in a simple way.
5. Acknowledge Your Donors’ Support
As with any support you receive from donors, it’s vital that you show your gratitude.
With volunteers, it’s especially important to show them that you appreciate their time and commitment to your cause. Donors are more likely to volunteer again if they feel like their time was appreciated.
After a volunteer donates their time, you should send them a thank you letter that acknowledges their support.
In addition to the traditional thank-you letter, there are several ways you can show volunteers your gratitude, including:
- Organizing a celebration dinner for volunteers after a fundraising event.
- Highlight volunteers that went above and beyond on your social media, website or newsletter.
- Share volunteer success stories that can be posted on your website.
- Reward volunteers with branded merchandise, like t-shirts, mugs, hats, etc.
Volunteers want to know that you care about their time and recognize all the hard work they contribute to your organization.
Bottom line: Show volunteers that their time is just as important as any donation by thanking them every chance you get.
With these five tips on turning donors into volunteers, you’re well on your way to recruiting more volunteers and retaining those supporters.
Just remember to promote your volunteer opportunities, encourage donors to participate through incentives like volunteer grant programs and show donors you appreciate their time.
Adam Weinger is president of Double the Donation, an organization that helps nonprofit organizations and schools increase fundraising from corporate matching gift and employee volunteer grant programs.