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4 Ways To Turn Volunteers Into Donors

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There is a proven correlation between volunteering and donating. One study found that on average, volunteers donate ten times more than non-volunteers. In addition, nearly 70% of folks surveyed said they donate to the organization for which they volunteer.

But how do you convert your volunteers into donors for your organization? If you’re having a hard time, here are four points to keep in mind:

Convert Your Volunteers Into Donors

1. Acknowledge them like they are a donor.

Treat them like gold – even if they don’t make monetary donations. Are you letting them know how much you appreciate their time and effort? If possible, try to quantify their activity into how much money or time they have saved your organization.

Example: “The help you provided by stuffing 1,000 envelopes with our appeal letter led to an additional $12,500 in donations! This will help us serve 150 more people … and we could not have done this without your help!”

2. Track all volunteer activity in your database.

Each time a person volunteers for your organization, is this information captured on her constituent’s record?  How many hours did she serve last year? Can she be counted on serving again the next year? Can you track volunteer retention rates (similar to donor retention)?

Knowing how many total volunteer hours for your organization can also be helpful statistics for grant requests and annual reports.

Tracking each volunteer interaction will give you a better understanding of their overall engagement with your organization.

Also, if you don’t know specifically how they helped — how can you appropriately thank them?  (See point #1)!

3. Give them opportunities to share their volunteer experiences and stories.

Provide easy ways for them to share on social media, your website, our future newsletter about why they volunteer. Someone with a robust volunteer history will be a great advocate and ambassador for your organization, even if they are not yet a donor. While they may not give a monetary donations, maybe their friends will.

And… the more excited they are to tell their stories, the more likely they may be to give a monetary gift in the future.

4. Ask!

Have you actually asked your volunteers to participate financially in your organization? Don’t just assume they will start giving because they know about your mission. Maybe they don’t know the best method to give, or don’t know that there is a need (all they know is that you had a volunteer need!).

Have you built a relationship with your volunteers to invite them to donate a small amount each month? Maybe they do not have the capacity to give a significant one-time gift, but maybe $10-$20/month would be suitable?

There are, of course, a ton of great resources online about this topic. Here are two that you might find helpful:

Have you had any luck converting volunteers to donors? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Kym Madden

    Great article, Mitch. What I find from my research listening to volunteers and donors is that volunteering really brings home the work of the organisation - how much it is needed and how well the organisation uses the resources it's own experience is credible, compelling and imprinted on one's memory. Volunteers might 'cycle' in and out of giving money as they can afford but over time the support adds up. And if you check the charitable bequest literature, often it's the volunteers who leave money to a charity!!
  • Ron Newlin

    Great post. I've been surprised how often, over the years, I've encountered organizations that DIDN'T ask their volunteers for financial contributions, usually in response to one or two instances of negative feedback. One volunteer, or one board member, says, "If we ask them for money, TOO, we'll offend them or drive them away." My recommendation is to find out who those individuals are, and mark their records "Do Not Solicit." Don't let those concerns keep you from including volunteers in your solicitations!
  • Tina Cincotti

    This is a great column! Thanks for all your resources and training opps. There's been some amazing stuff lately!
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