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5 Simple Steps to Turn Volunteers into Fundraisers

It’s no secret in the nonprofit community that volunteers play a critical role in any nonprofit’s success. They bring passion, networks, time and skills to the nonprofits they support. But can they also bring money? Fundraising expert Amy Eisenstein says YES in this week’s guest post. Here’s her plan for turning volunteers into fundraisers.

5 Simple Steps to Turn Volunteers into Fundraisers

Do you want to raise more money?

Of course you do!

A great strategy to do just that involves using volunteers for fundraising.

But before we discuss how to use volunteers to fundraise, it’s important to understand why we use them.

Why We Use Volunteers for Fundraising

1. Volunteers bring sincerity and passion.

Volunteers already love you and your organization.

It’s one thing to ask for money when you’re a staff member, but volunteers come at fundraising from an entirely different place. They are not being paid; rather they are there because they genuinely want to be. There is no better advocate for your cause than a dedicated volunteer.

2. Volunteers bring networks and relationships.

Of course, you’ve heard the concept, “six degrees of separation.” Adding volunteers to your fundraising toolkit only broadens your network and your reach.

If you’ve been fundraising for more than a week, you know fundraising is about building relationships. Potential donors are much more likely to trust and support their friends (your volunteers) than they are to trust you. Friends give to friends.

3. Volunteers have time and skills.

Short on time and resources? Volunteers could be the answer, provided they are well trained and supported.

Volunteers may also bring skills to the table that you, as a staff member, don’t have. Business, sales, and marketing skills are all extremely valuable and transferable to fundraising.

How to Use Volunteers as Fundraisers

1. Identify important skills and characteristics.

What skills and characteristics do you want in a volunteer fundraiser?

  • Willingness to ask.
  • Good listener.
  • Passionate about the cause and your organization.
  • Familiarity with your organization.

2. Solicit current volunteers (board and non-board members).

Using the list of criteria above, identify current and potential volunteers. Include board members as well as non-board volunteers. Are there volunteers who work in the office, directly with the clients, or in other parts of your organization who might be willing to help with fundraising?

3. Create a list of ways to help.

Provide a list of current fundraising opportunities—large and small. Your volunteers may not be aware of many of the opportunities to get involved, especially if they are not board members, or working near the administrative offices. Communicate with all volunteers, but specifically target those you have identified as willing to help in this area.

Examples of ways volunteers can help with fundraising include:

  • Bringing friends on tours of your organization.
  • Selling tickets and sponsorships.
  • Signing appeal letters to their network of friends and family.
  • Making thank you calls to donors.
  • Promoting your organization through social media sites.

4. Train your volunteers.

If you expect volunteers to do things in certain ways and be successful, they must be trained. Period.

5. Provide specific instructions and doable tasks.

Don’t assume your volunteers know what to do. Fundraising isn’t “natural” to most people. The more specific you can be, the more successful they will be.

And remember, volunteers are busy people too. If you ask them to make three calls this month (as opposed to thirty or three hundred), they are likely to be successful and come back for more.

 

Amy Eisenstein is one of the country’s leading fundraising consultants. She’s raised millions of dollars for dozens of nonprofits through event planning, grant writing, capital campaigns, and major gift solicitations. She has a real talent for making fundraising simple and accessible for her clients and followers.  This post originally appeared on Amy’s blog and is reproduced here with her permission.  Amy can be reached through her website at www.tripointfundraising.com.