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Utilizing Volunteers in Fundraising?

Updated: Feb 26

Volunteers are an important and vital part of fundraising for small and medium sized non-profit organizations. When resources are strapped and budgets are tight, volunteers provide a real dedication and enthusiasm for the role they play. Volunteers are more than just stuffing envelopes. This group typically comes from a diverse collection of people who have a real affinity for your cause. They can be beneficial in finding other volunteers as well as prospects and donors within their own social circles. Volunteers can develop their own why story and share it with your audience. 


Since volunteers are not paid employees, it is still important to train them as you would any member of your team. They are typically very enthusiastic and given information and steps, their enthusiasm can be focused in the proper areas. As part of the training, your volunteers should be given the same marketing material as the other team members to optimize results. Their support of your entire team can make a big difference overall. Some volunteers only have a select number of hours available to offer their services. If you find a handful of dedicated and passionate people, who are open to training, they could be a core group for the future. 


Even though volunteers are unpaid, it is advisable to complete an assessment. A little extra time is worth knowing if your willing volunteers may need more training, were well received by donors and/or skill sets may be suited in more specific areas. The better your volunteers perform the more valuable they become. 


Create a volunteer skillset checklist. Learn about your volunteers. Are they well connected in the community, can they design social media posts, are they creative writers...the skills go on.


Just like any other team member, your volunteers need a BIG thank you, encouragement, and kudos for their contribution. Celebrate as a team and include them in recap and analysis of your appeal or event.





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It seems like a no-brainer, but I am glad you mentioned the importance of remembering to thank the volunteers. And I would emphasize "individually". And the thank you should come from the top on down. I have served on several non-profit boards and committees, and it amazes me to see Executive Directors and CEOs not take these simple steps. That small act can mean all the difference in retaining volunteers. Not thanking them can result in losing their energy and passion for good.

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