Volunteers can become invaluable donors with the right approach. Read our article to learn how to leverage these relationships.

Look no further, because your future annual and major gift donors are right in front of you! Volunteers have proven over and over again to be invaluable resources to nonprofit organizations, providing their time, talent, ideas, and social ties to help advance an organization’s mission. Now is the time organizations should put in the same effort and attention toward engaging with their volunteer base as they do their donors.

Individuals who donate their time to nonprofit organizations tend to donate their money, as well. In fact, 39% of donors supported a nonprofit by volunteering before they made a financial contribution. Having meaningful volunteer opportunities can strengthen donor relationships with an organization and is crucial to an organization’s successful fundraising strategy.

77 million people, or 23% of the total US population, volunteer across the US each year.

$29.95 is the estimated value of a volunteer hour, which is a 4.9% increase from 2020 to 2021.

42% of high-net-worth individuals indicated that they hold leadership positions or sit on the board of directors at the organizations to which they give.

42% also claim to volunteer their time and/or services at the organizations to which they give.

Consider the following tips as you look to transition volunteers to donors.

1. establish a culture of philanthropy among volunteers.

Everyone in the organization, from the janitor to the chairman of the board, understands that philanthropy and fund development are critical to organizational health and that each individual has a role in the process. First and foremost, everyone is an ambassador.

Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE

While every organization has its own way of doing things, philanthropy must be rooted in the organization’s culture to resonate with key stakeholders. Take the time to share your organization’s values, vision, and mission with your volunteers. Most of your organization’s supporters are considered cultural “adopters.” They are passionate, reliable, and motivated by external and internal factors. These cultural adopters should receive ongoing stewardship for the key role they play in pushing your organization’s mission forward.

2. Utilize moves management practices with your volunteer base.

3. Track volunteer engagement metrics in your CRM.

Just as you track donor activities and qualify donors on a regular cadence, consider tracking key volunteer engagement metrics and wealth screen your established volunteer base. These metrics can help your organization identify engagement trends, indicate where the relationship currently sits with each volunteer, and flag those who have the capacity to give. Example metrics can include the following: service hours, event attendance, social media interactions, personalized visits or one-on-one phone calls, or email open rates.

4. engage different generations of volunteers.

When considering how to engage volunteers across generations, demographics, or backgrounds, it is important to remember that every person is unique. As younger generations become more involved with various philanthropic causes, immersive volunteer opportunities that convey impact will be a driver for individuals looking to make a gift. One-third of millennials shared that they give more to a nonprofit they are actively volunteering with, compared to 21% of Gen X and 12% of Baby Boomers. Think outside the box on how you can meet each generation where they are and provide a volunteer experience that aligns with their values and motivations.

5. invest in tailoring the volunteer experience.

Consider offering a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that provide flexibility and focus on an individual’s strengths and interests. When engaging any donor or community member, be prepared with a list of volunteer experiences that could be in-person, virtual, seasonal, individual, or team/corporate based. Hands-on opportunities that allow a volunteer to see your mission in action are critical.

Explore how you can leverage your organization’s volunteer leadership opportunities, such as a board role or committee, to leverage an individual’s expertise and raise the sights of key stakeholders already engaged in your mission.

the takeaway: Enhance Your Volunteer Relationships.

Strong volunteer engagement is a key component of nonprofit success. Engage your volunteers as you would your donors. A volunteer who is also a donor is deeply invested in the impact they can make in an organization they care about. Focus on building individual volunteer relationships that leverage their diverse stories, skills, and experiences to support your fundraising efforts.

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