Guest post by David Bakke, Money Crashers
In light of recent economic struggles, many Americans have had less disposable income to donate to charitable organizations. According to Philanthropy News Digest, nearly two-thirds of these organizations reported that donations were either down or stayed the same during the first three-quarters of last year.
The point is, in order to generate more money at your nonprofit, you’re going to have to up your game. One of the best ways to do this is to do an even better job of engaging your volunteers. After all, your volunteers can be your most ardent supporters, ambassadors, champions and even fundraisers.
If you’re looking to increase donations, consider the following five strategies:
1. Elicit Feedback from Volunteers
The best ways to keep your volunteers engaged is to ask for their feedback. Get their thoughts on how the organization is being run and ask if they have ideas on how to make it more effective. When they present ideas, take it a step further and ask if they’re willing to contribute to or even lead the suggested activity. Your volunteers are the cogs that drive your organization’s mission – they’re familiar with what works, and implementing their ideas can make them more invested in the results.
2. Train and Communicate
If your volunteers don’t know how to do something, make sure you provide the proper training. Partner up newer team members with more experienced staff to ensure they’re trained well. Communicate openly and often and oversee the process when necessary. Show an interest in their training progress and make sure new and existing volunteers know you’re available to address questions and concerns.
3. Run an Efficient Organization
Volunteers don’t mind donating their time to a worthy cause. However, they don’t like their time being wasted. Run your organization efficiently and in a streamlined fashion to improve volunteer engagement and retention. Keep meetings brief, make sure volunteers clearly understand their roles, and do your best to see that any events end when scheduled.
4. Put Together Creative Promotions
The more creative your promotions and marketing efforts, the more your volunteers may want to participate in events. One nonprofit recently used Groundhog Day to support a promotion. At another nonprofit, an intern created a rap video for her company. Reach out to everyone in your organization and encourage them to think creatively for ways to promote your cause.
5. Recognize Volunteers
If you have volunteers that go above and beyond the call of duty, make sure they’re recognized for their efforts. Make an announcement to the team, include a quick post on your social media pages, or consider any other way to show your appreciation. Little pats on the back and “thank-you’s” go a long way to keeping your most productive volunteers engaged.
Even if your nonprofit is reaching its goals, investing in volunteers is a promising way to exceed them. Implement efforts that incorporate volunteers and then track the success of those efforts to determine which are most effective. Just don’t hamstring your efforts by not devoting enough time to your most important asset – your people!
What ways can you think of to raise money by better engaging volunteers?
David Bakke is a writer for Money Crashers Personal Finance, where he stresses the importance of properly managing your finances and giving back wealth to the community.