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Your Nonprofit’s Best Donors are Right in Front of You

By Bisk
Your Nonprofit’s Best Donors are Right in Front of You

If one of your goals for 2013 is to grow your nonprofit’s donor base, there are plenty of techniques that might work. You could try expanding your marketing efforts to engage more people in your organization’s mission and work. You might try accelerating your activity on social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter. You could also sponsor an event to raise money and increase awareness.

Still, there is one source of donations that you might be overlooking – even though it’s right in front of your eyes. Who are these potential donors? They’re the same people organizing the annual auction or driving senior clients to doctor’s appointments. Perhaps you’ll find them loading delivery vans or working in your organization’s thrift store. These potential donors are your current volunteers.

Volunteers are Natural Donors

At least two studies in recent years have highlighted the connection between volunteering for and donating to an organization:

  • The 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy noted that 89% of wealthy individuals volunteered their time to nonprofits in 2011, an increase of 10 percentage points over 2010. That’s good news for charities.

Another notable finding: In general, the more time those individuals spent volunteering, the more they gave in overall donations. Those who volunteered more than 100 hours gave about twice as much ($78,000) as those who volunteered fewer than 100 hours ($39,000). Still another trend: a higher percentage of wealthy Americans are contributing to the organizations where they also volunteer. The Bank of America study found that these folks are more focused in their giving. They also are more committed financially when they are involved on a personal level with an organization they believe in – and for those who donate and volunteer, the size of their average gift grew by 40% between 2009 and 2011.

  • A study by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and Volunteer Match found that people who volunteered in 2009 donated more than 10 times more money to charities (an average of $2,593) than those who did not (an average of $230). In addition, nearly 70% of respondents said they typically make financial donations to the organization for which they volunteer.

Tap Into Volunteers

Your nonprofit’s volunteers are primed for giving donations. They have already demonstrated a commitment to the organization. They believe in the mission and the work – or they wouldn’t be giving their time, talent and energy.

It’s also true that like nearly everyone in this era of economic recovery, volunteers are carefully choosing where to give their money. When they know their donations of time and money are being utilized wisely and for a cause they believe in, they are more likely to give.

5 Ways to Add Volunteers, Improve Donations

It’s clear that your pool of volunteers can be among your nonprofit’s biggest supporters. Here are five ways to increase the number of volunteers – and potential donors – for your organization:

  1. Make it easy to volunteer. Break tasks down into smaller blocks, rather than all-day commitments. Give people opportunities to help no matter where they are. Arrange for a volunteer to work from her office or home, rather than having to travel to your location. Volunteers like to use their professional skills, so match the right job with the right person.
  2. Take the pressure off. Many prospective volunteers are afraid to commit, thinking that once they say, “Yes,” you won’t let them go. Take a relaxed approach and accept whatever time your volunteers can give.
  3. Think in terms of groups. People like to volunteer with others of similar age. Recruit church youth groups or local sports teams. Find ways for families to help. Make it enjoyable and rewarding, and they’ll be back.
  4. Don’t be shy. Tell the world you need volunteers. Communicate your needs through your blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. Be specific. Instead of saying, “We need volunteers,” try, “We need three people for one hour starting at 9 a.m. Saturday to help load our delivery van.” You’re more likely to have people say, “I can do that!”
  5. Go corporate. Reach out to local employers, who are often looking for ways to involve their workers in community giving. Make it easy for them by doing all the preliminary legwork – and be prepared with all the details.

It’s a simple formula: The more volunteers you have, the more potential donors you have. It may seem like asking too much to solicit donations from volunteers, but studies show that your volunteers are already more inclined to give much more than those who don’t volunteer.

Learn from top professors fully engaged in the nonprofit arena. See the Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Fund Development from Notre Dame’s 100% online course.


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Category: Nonprofit Leadership