Taking a Thoughtful Approach to Develop Volunteers and Donors
Be sure to take a thoughtful approach to developing your volunteers and donors. It can make a tremendous difference for your organization.
A few years ago, I was talking with some YMCA leaders about their philosophy in running one of the nation's most successful camps. I should not have been surprised to hear them share that a major focus was developing the staff — especially the high school and college student season staff that made up the bulk of the team. They took a purposeful approach to selecting the right staff and then to coaching and supporting staff members. By understanding that their commitment was to develop the staff into leaders, the Y revolutionized how the staff was nurtured.
Successful businesses — large and small — know this is vital. And we know the same is true of our volunteers and donors.
Safeguard against the pressures of other responsibilities to take a very strategic and personal approach in developing your volunteers and donors. Through both experiences, you have the ability to impact lives and help people enjoy fulfillment and the ability to make a difference.
We were working with a newer organization whose board chair had never held a community leadership position. However, he was in a prominent role. His father-in-law was a nationally known entrepreneur and billionaire. We soon realized that this chair had never really led a meeting, much less an organization. This changed our approach in how we communicated with him and supported him. The growth he enjoyed as a chair and as a person was incredible.
Understand what your volunteers are looking for through their involvement as well as the skills your volunteers bring and what skills you need to help them develop. Help them develop, and they will help your mission develop.
Last week, I visited with a client who confessed that it is not taking time to develop deep donor relationships. As a result, the client has not yet enjoyed major success with a capital campaign. It has a sound annual campaign, but the gifts are largely transactional. Its staff, those I met with confessed, was pulled in other areas and not empowered or held accountable to go deep with donors. What administrative or other tasks are pulling you and your team away from face time with donors?
By focusing on strong and sincere donor relationships, learning their needs and interests, and providing appropriate opportunities, you also help donors experience the joy of giving and leave a legacy.
Take a purposeful approach to help your volunteers and donors fulfill their potential. Relationship building takes time. Be sure that you are equipping and empowering your staff to create tailored strategies to help your volunteers and donors find great fulfillment through your organization. They will benefit, you will have a rewarding experience and your organization's mission effectiveness will be much stronger.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.