Whether it’s a capital campaign or a peer-to-peer campaign, fundraising is all about making the most of existing social networks. As you approach launching a campaign, make sure you’re maximizing a very important group of people: your volunteers.
Volunteers make great fundraisers. They have several special advantages:
They already know what your organization is all about, and they think it’s important.
Your volunteers have already made a commitment to your cause. You don’t need to sell them on it, they think it’s important enough to give their time and service.
They have personal experience with your organization, which makes their appeals authentic.
Volunteers have automatic authenticity. They can draw on their personal experiences with your organization, and tell real stories from the trenches. When they make an appeal, they aren’t simply making a pitch, they’re sharing something important with their friends.
If they have hands-on experience with the programs they’re raising funds for, they may already be itching to fundraise.
Volunteers often have inside knowledge of the ways your resources are limited. If they’ve seen the van break down while making food pantry deliveries, or they know two more computers in the community lab would cut the wait time in half, they may already be thinking about fundraising. They may just be waiting to be asked.
The benefits of involving volunteers in fundraising goes way beyond the dollars they’ll potentially raise. In addition to raising money, benefits include:
Broadening your reach
Volunteers can make their already-existing networks aware of your cause. Your volunteers have friends and family who would probably never come to a volunteer event, but may still be excited to help. Now they’re on your team.
Increasing volunteers’ connection to your organization
Raising money gives your volunteers a different experience with your organization, and a different way to be involved. By sharing your cause with their networks, they may feel even more connected to your organization and cause.
Engaging volunteers at all commitment levels
Fundraising is a flexible volunteer opportunity. Allow your volunteers to set their fundraising goals based on how involved they want to be. Consider reaching out to lapsed or former volunteers who are no longer available for hands-on volunteer work–they may be excited to find a way to be involved.
How To Make It Happen
Like any volunteer assignment, your volunteers will be more successful raising money if you provide them with the things they need to get the job done. For the best results, give your volunteer fundraisers:
1. Good Tech
The technology you use to run your campaign can really make or break it. These people are volunteering to raise money for you; it should be as pleasant as possible. If they’re raising money online, make sure your tech is:
- Easy to use as a fundraiser and as a donor
- The two things it should be the easiest to do is make a donation, and make a personal fundraising page. If either of those things are complicated, choose another platform.
- In the past year, mobile giving has increased 205%.
- Story-focused, and human-centered
- The technology you use should help your volunteers tell their stories, with options for updates, blog posts, and/or their own personal appeal.
2. Good Guidance
It’s easy for fundraising professionals to forget that asking for money is intimidating to many people. Recognize that your volunteers may feel a little unsure about how to reach out and make an ask, and provide them with tools to do it well. Give them a toolkit that includes:
- Templates and samples
- Take the “Am I doing this right?” pressure off by providing sample emails, fundraising pages, and social media posts, as well as templates to create their own.
- Make it easy to use and share campaign images (and keep things on-brand) by providing files at the beginning of the campaign.
- Messages and stories
- Share stories, videos, and messages for your volunteers to share with their networks.
- Contact information for key staff
- What if someone wants to write a check? What if someone wants to make a giant planned gift? Make sure your volunteers know who to call!
3. Good Times
Make fundraising fun! Celebrate every win, and encourage and inspire your volunteer fundraisers with:
- Regular updates on how the campaign is going
- Social media shout-outs
- Stories of the impact they’re helping to make
How To Make It Happen Again
Providing your volunteers with one excellent fundraising experience is good, but it’s even better if they want to do it again. The groundwork for your next campaign begins while the first one is still going.
Check in with volunteer fundraisers during the campaign. Your phone call or email doesn’t need to be long, just ask how the campaign is going, and if there’s anything you can do to help. Take the time to make a human connection with each volunteer–you never want them to feel lost in the crowd.
After your campaign is over, follow up to say thank you, and to ask for feedback on the campaign. Demonstrate that you not only value their service, but also their advice.
Ready, Set, Go!
If there’s one thing we know about volunteers, it’s that they’re helpful people. When you invite them to fundraise, you’re also giving them another way to help. Provide them with the tools they need to be successful, and watch them shine!