Volunteer Opportunities to Get Your Major Donors Involved

Guest post by Blake Groves

Engage Your Major Donors as VolunteersLike many aspects of nonprofit life, we’re seeing all sorts of fascinating opportunities pop up in the volunteering world. You can now text your ZIP code to a phone number and receive a list of volunteer opportunities in your area. To be blunt, that’s really cool!

The volunteering arena is an exciting environment to be in.

Why are you leaving your major donors, and really any donors, out of the loop?

Have you ever thought to yourself — I can’t ask someone who just gave a large contribution to volunteer their time as well. If you have, you’re not alone.

Sure, a university probably wouldn’t want to ask someone who just funded most of their new library to also pour cement for the whole building, but there are plenty of great volunteer opportunities for major donors that can have a major impact on how those donors engage with your organization.

Don’t undervalue the relationship that can be built when someone gets to support an organization they care about in a non-fiscal way!

Get creative and start offering your major donors unique volunteering opportunities like the two below.

1. Ask them to help out during an advocacy event.

Participating in an advocacy event has the potential to be a really special volunteering opportunity.

These events get your major donors involved at the ground level, showing them firsthand the work you’re doing and how their donations have factored into your service. It calls to mind a common tip given to creative writers — show, don’t tell!

To provide some context, here’s a sample scenario.

Imagine you’ve gathered all the signatures you need using an online petition, but you’ve chosen to take your online petition offline in the final stage by hand delivering it to the appropriate party.

It’s a grand gesture that sticks in people’s minds and, at the very least, draws attention to the worthwhile cause at hand. You could ask a major donor to join in on the delivery. They’d leave with a memory of a once-in-a-lifetime volunteering experience.

If your organization participates in advocacy, think through the ways you can creatively engage your major donors and help them forge lasting bonds with your cause and your mission.

2. Ask them to participate in a feasibility study.

Feasibility studies aren’t exactly the first thing one thinks of when they hear the word volunteering, but they do provide a unique opportunity to learn more about your major donors while they learn more about you.

If you’re organizing a capital campaign, you’re probably also orchestrating a feasibility study to survey members of the community to gauge the viability of the project you’re fundraising for.

Ask some of your major donors to participate in the feasibility study. Their involvement gives them a window into a current project you’re working on and your present goals while your team gathers invaluable insight into your major donors’ thought processes. All involved benefit.

Note: Two rather obscure options were chosen here to demonstrate how creative you can get with major donor volunteerism. Think outside the box and find unique avenues to let your major donors into your organization’s day-to-day work!

About the author: Blake Groves is the Vice President, Strategy and Business Development with Salsa. With more than 20 years in technology solutions and consulting, Blake’s expertise lies in hands-on knowledge of sales, consulting, product management and marketing. For the last 10 years, he has narrowed his focus to how Internet technologies can help nonprofit organizations.

Food for Thought: Technology and the Future of Volunteer Management

At VolunteerMatch we learn so much from other experts in the fields of volunteer engagement and nonprofit management, and we want to help you stay up to date on the latest news and trends. Here’s some food for thought to keep your February going strong. 

Volunteer Engagement Roundup

What Does it Mean to Engage Tech Talent in Pro Bono?
From Taproot Foundation:
There’s a huge push for tech companies to “do good” and give back to their communities by volunteering. And by understanding the roles of employees within the tech industry, we can better understand the pro bono possibilities they can bring to our nonprofits.

Could a Robot Do the Job of a Volunteer Manager?
From e-Volunteerism:
Over the next 20 years, 35% of jobs in the UK will be taken over by robots, according to a study. What about volunteer managers? This article examines the difference between what tends to be in a volunteer manager’s job description vs. what they actually do.

Cost, Value, & Austerity: The Challenge for Volunteer Managers
From Third Sector:
When money is tight, is volunteer engagement training one of the first things to get cut? This article explores the unique issues volunteer managers face, and what you can do about it.

Looking to gather new volunteer management skills without spending money? Check out our free webinar series.

Great Mission. Bad Statement.
From Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR):
Are volunteers not engaging with your organization because of the words you use to communicate your mission? That is very likely, according to this article. Learn what you can do to increase the effectiveness of your language, and keep volunteers excited about your cause.

For more tips from experts, check out the VolunteerMatch book that brings together 35 experts.

The Faces of Volunteerism in the U.S. [Infographic]

You work with volunteers on a regular basis. Or perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself. But do you ever wonder what volunteerism looks like on a larger scale, throughout the United States?

Wonder no more! Our friends at OnlineMPHToday.com have answered that question with an infographic. Gathering statistics from sources such as Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World, they summarize who is volunteering in the U.S. today:

2015 Volunteer Statistics Infographic by Online MPH Today

Thanks, OnlineMPHToday.com!

VolunteerMatch + Causecast: New Partnership Increases the Power of Corporate Volunteerism

VolunteerMatch and Causecast launch partnership

As a nonprofit, VolunteerMatch believes in making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. We also believe we aren’t the only ones who hold this belief, and that by joining forces with other like-minded organizations, we can create an even greater impact together.

That’s why we’re so excited by this week’s announcement of our partnership with Causecast, a smart and innovative corporate giving and volunteering platform and like-minded organization.

Together we’ve created a new opportunity that promises to not only serve more businesses interested in giving back but also better serves the 100,000+ nonprofits using VolunteerMatch to more effectively tap into the skills and talents of volunteers across the county.

Causecast is the first CSR platform to take advantage of VolunteerMatch’s new Network Access Provider program to allow its customers and their employees to access the entire VolunteerMatch network seamlessly within their application. It will give Causecast’s customers 100,000 new opportunities to make their volunteering programs more strategic, scalable and irresistible while making it easier for the nonprofit sector to find the talented volunteers they need.

Corporate volunteerism is on the rise. If you don’t believe me, just look at the latest Giving in Numbers report by CECP. It shows that the number of large companies offering paid volunteer time off (VTO) rose by 5% from 2012 to 2014, and corporate pro bono programs grew by 11% in that same timeframe. The benefits for companies, employees, and communities are well-documented, and we’ve seen firsthand how the time, talent and passions of employees can make a real difference for the causes they care about most.

This is a big step forward for VolunteerMatch, and we hope it will be the beginning of a new chapter that will reduce the fragmentation and friction that is frustrating the nonprofit sector’s capacity to effectively engage the time and talent of corporate volunteer programs, while at the same time growing the field of corporate engagement by giving customers more choices.

We are very proud that VolunteerMatch is the biggest fish in the volunteer engagement pond. But it is time for us to play an even bigger role in a much bigger pond, not as the biggest fish, but as a community builder bringing together the school of fish towards a common goal of serving the nonprofit sector with talented corporate volunteers.

Photo Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

10 Tips for a Successful Google AdWords Account

Make the Most of Your Google AdWords GrantGuest post by Stephanie Hong

Welcome to part two of our special Google AdWords two-part series written by Stephanie Hong, a nonprofit marketing specialist, where she provide tips & tricks on how to make the most of your Google AdWords Grant dollars.

In case you missed it, part one reviewed How to Take Advantage of Free Advertising Dollars from Google AdWords.

You applied for Google Ad Grants. You signed up for Google AdWords. You started a few campaigns and you’re spending some of your free money. But how can you make the most of your grant dollars? Here are 10 Google AdWords tips to get your account running to its full potential.

1. Bid on your own brand

It may sound silly to spend money on your own nonprofit name, but it’s one of first things you should do when building your AdWords account. Not only does it show brand power by being the top result, it also prevents others from stealing your spotlight.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

2. Set Maximum Cost Per Click (CPC) at $2

Google Ad Grants has a maximum CPC of $2; make sure to set all your keywords to the maximum bid so your ad has a better chance of showing up.

3. Geo-target to you locations

Many nonprofits are local. Make sure to target the locations that are relevant to your nonprofit. For example, if you have volunteer opportunities in San Francisco, change your location settings to San Francisco. Otherwise, your volunteer ads will show to all of the United States.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

4. Organize your Ad Groups with tightly themed subjects

Organization is key for an AdWords account. Not only does it help you keep track of the topics you’re targeting, it makes it easier to see what is doing well. Think of it like a brick and mortar store: a campaign would be “Shoes” and the Ad Groups would be “men’s shoes”, “women’s shoes”, “children’s shoes”, etc.

5. Write ad text that is specific to your keywords within your Ad Group

Including keywords in your ad headline will increase your chances of being the top ad. It shows viewers that your brand is relevant to what they are searching for.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

6. Have a strong call to action

People are inundated with online ads; make yours stands out by having a strong call to action. Your ad copy should tell the user precisely what will occur on the landing page (sign up, donate now, download, etc). A generic message might make the user click, but then leave quickly.

7. Pay attention to Keyword Match Types

When you’re bidding on long keywords, it’s important to make sure you have the right match type. For example, “volunteer with animals” should be set as “phrase match” to ensure you grab the whole keyword term.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

8. Track conversions

If you have goals, such as a volunteer sign-up, you should set up Conversion Actions within Google AdWords. By placing a conversion pixel on a Thank You or conversion page, you will be able to see how many people converted through AdWords. For example, VolunteerMatch tracks when a nonprofit signs up for a VolunteerMatch.org account. With this information, we know how well AdWords does at driving sign-ups.

9. Use Sitelinks if you have content to share

Sitelink ad extension shows links to specific pages of your website under your ad. This is beneficial for folks who have multiple conversion possibilities. For example, a generic VolunteerMatch ad will drive to the homepage, but through Sitelinks, we are able to add other call to actions such as “Join as a Volunteer”, “Join as a Nonprofit”, or “About VolunteerMatch”.

Make the most of Google AdWords at your nonprofit.

10. Don’t be afraid to test!

In AdWords, you only pay when a person clicks on your ad, so don’t be afraid to make a bunch of ads to test. I suggest starting off with at least 2 ads per Ad Group. Trying different keywords, headlines, or call to actions is a fun way to see how your audience responds to your nonprofit.

I hope these tips are helpful!  AdWords is a fun advertising platform because you can constantly change and play around with your targeting. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any results; it does take time.


If you are still in the beginning phases of setting up your AdWords account, Google has many great resources to help you. Check out their Guide to AdWords.