You Better Motivate Your Fundraising Volunteers
I have interacted with many nonprofit organizations through the years. While some of these organizations had large development staff, the overwhelming majority did not have sizable development staff at all. In fact, many organizations seemed to be woefully understaffed for the revenue they were charged with generating. Combine these small development staff with constant staff turnover, and you have a hot development mess.
A saving grace for most fundraising organizations is the fact that they can recruit, train, provide orientation, engage and retain fundraising volunteers for a sustained period. That sounds easy, but it is very difficult to achieve. How can you motivate your volunteers for greater institutional success?
According to Engaging Volunteers, volunteers are the heart and soul of a nonprofit organization. It is important that you make them feel a part of your community. Here are Engaging Volunteers’ five smart ways to start motivating your nonprofit’s volunteers.
- Know their reasons for volunteering. Apply what you know to create a program that fosters long-term commitment.
- Communicate. Good communication is key to managing expectations by welcoming feedback.
- Show your appreciation. Say thank you, and consider giving out awards and incentives, and organizing events.
- Show them how they made a difference. Let them see the results of their hard work.
- Provide social recognition. Both internally and externally.
Another Engaging Volunteers article states that every manager must keep volunteers motivated to ensure they will continue helping you. The happier volunteers are, the more productive they can be. Provide volunteers with positive motivation by encouraging healthy bodies and minds, respect them, hold regular meetings, be accessible to them, establish reliable go-betweens, be accurate and detailed, praise and recognize accomplishments, build a community of volunteers, be flexible, and lead by example.
Amy Einstein suggests that we use volunteers for fundraising because volunteers bring sincerity and passion to a cause, bring networks and relationships to the table, have time and skills, and can be trained to handle a variety of opportunities. You should want volunteers who can ask for funds and listen, be passionate about the cause and be very familiar with your organization.
VolunteerPower points out that the No. 1 motivator of volunteers should be positive feedback. Organizational leaders must give volunteers regular rewards and recognition, and send your volunteer leaders to conferences. Provide on-the-job vocational training. Always be available to volunteers wherever and whenever they request your presence, and don’t limit your involvement. Provide volunteers with free food, have fun and hire development staff who are committed to the use of volunteers.
During a fundraising campaign, according to Classy, keep an open line of communication with volunteers daily.
Since these individuals are responsible for fundraising success, do not forget to the following:
- Deliver regular campaign updates.
- Celebrate their fundraising milestones.
- Send inactive fundraisers encouragement and advice.
- Recognize your top fundraisers.
- Share tips from your best fundraisers.
- Add fundraising incentives.
Fundraising volunteers are going above and beyond for your organization, but they need your support to succeed. Keep their spirits high and effectively engage them in the process. Arm them with sound fundraising advice and ideas. By keeping them excited about their involvement, you can maximize your overall fundraising success.
GuideStar suggests that your nonprofit volunteer fundraising success begins with volunteer boards. Her thoughts for working with volunteer boards to generate dollars includes:
- Understand that 100% board involvement in fundraising will not happen.
- Board members may not ask but can engage in donor and relationship development.
- The donor development approach relieves board members of anxiety about asking for money.
- Board members should be either ambassadors, advocates or askers, or get off the board.
- Advocates make the case for support.
- Askers ask for the order in a variety of ways.
- The AAA method organizes the tasks of a board member.
- Seek to get the total board involved in donor and resource development over time.
My development job changed throughout the last four months from motivating a development staff of approximately 20 people to motivating approximately 30 fundraising volunteers. That fact alone is both challenging, exciting and scary. Volunteers do not have to listen to you or engage. Many fundraising volunteers also volunteer for other organizations. Your organization may not be their first choice for service.
Each volunteer is unique, and what it takes to motivate them is different. The total success of my current campaign will depend in part to the success of volunteers, many of whom have never been engaged in large asks before. I have always believed in positive motivation. I will need a ton of it in this assignment!
If you have not already done so, you better motivate your fundraising volunteers beginning today. Your fundraising program’s total success may depend on how well you achieve this goal. Good luck as you will need it!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.