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The Volunteer Donor Connection

volunteer to donor, volunteer donor transformation, super advocates, super supporters,

Group of Volunteers

Two of the most important groups in your nonprofit might not be in the office every day, but their influence is certainly felt on a daily basis. Of course, I’m referring to donors and volunteers. Their time, financial support and commitment to the organization are invaluable. Yet, their potential to truly help the organization forward its mission is often overlooked because the two groups are categorized as either a donor or a volunteer.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Studies by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and Gallup found that:

  • Volunteers donate up to 10x’s more than those who do not volunteer.
  • Of volunteers who give, two-thirds donate their money to organizations they volunteer with.
  • More than half (53%) of U.S. donors have an emotional attachment to the organizations they give to most often.

With this in mind, it’s worth taking a step back to see how cross-pollination of these two groups can help further your organization’s mission. Here are 5 tips to transform your volunteers to donors.

1. Align Your Volunteer and Development Departments. Although these teams are both working to increase outside resources for the organization, their efforts can often seem siloed—with development staff focusing on donations and volunteer staff focusing on volunteer activity.

There are a variety of ways that teams can break through these siloes, including:

  • Regularly scheduled meetings
  • Report sharing/comparison to identify areas of opportunity
  • Working groups, comprised of members from each team, to brainstorm solutions for better alignment

Regardless of the method used to combine team efforts, it is essential that development and volunteer staff work together to convert volunteers to donors.

PRO TIP: Find an all-in-one software solution that allows volunteer and development staff to use the same database, share reports and more. For example, Giveffect gives users the flexibility to view constituents as donors or volunteers, as well as those that fall into both categories, with the ability to pull meaningful data for decision-making.

2. Reframe the Definition of Giving. For many nonprofits, this term often refers to financial gifts. Giving, though, should also take into account time and skills that volunteers bring to the organization.

This is especially evident with Big Brother Big Sisters agencies. In fact, the BBBSA FAQ section points out, "The quality of time you invest with your LIttle is more important than the amount of money you spend."

By shifting perspective to view volunteers' mentorship as a source of donation, staff can develop a snapshot of volunteers the organization might want to cultivate a deeper relationship with.

PRO TIP: Offer constituents unique ways to give. Many Giveffect clients have found that their volunteers enjoy using third-party fundraising websites to solicit donations. For example, one constituent of a Giveffect client used her 99th birthday to collect more than $10,000 for a charity in lieu of gifts. As a bonus, each donor's information was added to the CRM database to create a new connection.
Third-party Fundraiser Birthday example

3. Engage Your Constituents. Your donors and volunteers are more than an assigned role in a database. Their time, skills and generosity are integral to your organization, and engaging them can help you understand the myriad ways that they may contribute to the mission.

In addition to using forms to collect more detailed information about your constituents, such as occupations, skills and interests, connect with them. Whether through one-on-one conversations, email engagement campaigns, newsletters, social media or other types of communication. Stay in touch to let constituents know how much you value them and their contributions.

PRO TIP: Regularly review data regarding the amount of time volunteers have donated and their overall engagement with the organization to develop a pipeline of constituents poised to be super advocates, i.e., those who contribute significantly to the organization through both volunteering and financial contributions.

4. Just Ask. Studies show that volunteers are twice as likely to donate to an organization where they donate their time (Volunteering and Civic Life in America). With this information, as well as data that you have collected through volunteer tracking, asking volunteers to donate should be a definite strategy.

Of course, appeals to volunteers to donate should be highly personalized. Let these special constituents know how much the organization values them and their commitment by including notable information in your email or letter. Moreover, let them know how much it would mean to the organization for them to serve in this additional capacity.

PRO TIP: Whether contacting a volunteer for their birthday or to celebrate a service milestone, include a call-to-action for a donation in the communication. This can be as simple as a Donate button in an email.

5. Show Impact. You’ve engaged your constituents, collected the data and convinced volunteers to donate. Now show them the impact that they’ve had on the organization by both volunteering and donating. Go beyond volunteer hours or a simple tax receipt, tell the story of how these super supporters have furthered the organization’s mission.

These stories are not only powerful for encouraging super supporters to continue their unique roles in the organization but are also great for inspiring your constituent base.

PRO TIP: Using data segmented by campaign, you can reconcile funds to see how individuals' gifts, whether through time volunteered, donations or a combination of both, contributed to campaign goals. Then, use this information to create highly personalized letters, emails or case studies to illustrate these donors' significant impact on the organization's mission

In short, go for the upsell and bridge the gap that too often exists between donors and volunteers, creating a culture of giving.