I have been managing and coordinating volunteers since 2007 and throughout the 10 years, I have managed to turn several volunteers into major donors of many of the projects I am involved with and together we have built and established many great community development projects worth billions of Uganda shillings. But one question I usually come across among many of my friends running organizations- is – “How Can I convert volunteers into donors?”
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 six points to keep in mind:
- Orient them:
Get volunteers off to a great start by providing an appropriate, engaging volunteer orientation in groups or individually. Be sure they understand what is expected of them and what kind of support they can count on. Let them know their volunteer hours are vital and contributed dollars are essential to your fulfilling your mission.
- Give them a rewarding volunteer experience:
Volunteers provide incredible service and resources, but your organization has to invest in supporting volunteers. Be sure that you provide regular communication and support to your volunteers. Ask them how you are doing and how the experience can be improved upon. Give them a personal experience and connection to your organization, and they will invest their time and money with you.
- 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.
- Give them opportunities to share their volunteer experiences and stories:
Provide easy ways for them to share on social media, your website, your 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 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.
- Ask them:
Don’t be timid. While honoring their volunteer service, invite volunteers to participate financially. 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?
Two health clinics we are assisting are nervous about asking doctors, nurses and other medical profession volunteers for donations. Create a positive culture of philanthropy among volunteers, celebrate giving regularly and ask in an appropriate manner. The timing and manner of a gift request to donors must be honed, as any special constituency. Give them time to be settled and fulfilled in their volunteer experience, but don’t let a year go by.
- Recognize them:
Pay special attention to those who both volunteer and give to your organization. There are lots of opportunities, ranging from your website, to volunteer gatherings, to the annual report.
While recognizing the special opportunity to thank them for their volunteer service, nurture relationships with your volunteers and encourage them to join your donor ranks as well. Treat your volunteers as among your best donor prospects — because they are!
What is your organization doing today to promote volunteer opportunities and provide volunteers with a stellar experience? Your volunteer donors can be among your most passionate, loyal and generous friends.
Isaac Ssamba- the writer is the Chief of Operations at Go Volunteer Africa- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org