Blurred Lines: Turning Donors into Volunteers…into Donors

Don't label your supporters! Turning donors into volunteers...into donors.Does your organization label your supporters and potential supporters as either “donors” or “volunteers?” Mistake!

Are your donor and volunteer databases separate? Mistake!

Research shows an empirical link between volunteering and donating. For example, volunteers donate on average 10X more than non-volunteers. In addition, nearly 70% of folks surveyed in the linked study said they donate to the organization for which they volunteer.

Fundraising and volunteer engagement are both all about building relationships. In today’s connected world, the lines are blurring between donors and volunteers, so why would you put up an artificial wall that limits your relationships? Instead, use the ideas and strategies below to empower and inspire potential community members to provide the help you need most, turning donors into volunteers…into donors.

Make Them Feel Comfy

Your time and communications with new supporters should be focused on showing them why your organization is so special, why you’re a great fit for their individual passions, and how much of an impact they can have with you. Make them feel comfortable and welcome, no matter how they want to get involved at first.

Focus on Corporate Volunteers

Volunteers who get involved with you via their workplaces, or who just happen to work at a large company, might be the “low hanging fruit” when it comes to encouraging donations. Find out if their company runs a matching gifts, granting or dollars for doers program. If so, let the volunteer know and help them easily get these benefits for your organization. Chances are, they’ll want to add in some money of their own, too.

Give Them Ownership

Ask your donor or volunteer to take the lead in a particular project. From a position of relative leadership, they are more likely to get even more engaged and increase their commitment both monetarily and time-wise. Fundraising campaigns (both online and offline,) and event-planning are both great projects for this kind of encouragement.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Whether they’ve given time or money, your supporters are with you because they care and they want to help. Make sure they know what you really need. I guarantee they’ll jump at the chance to make an even bigger impact, and they’ll appreciate that you reached out to them as a trusted and valued champion.

If you’re interested in more detailed, tactical tips for using social media and other communications strategies to blur the lines between donors and volunteers, check out Social Media for Nonprofits in Silicon Valley – I’ll be speaking on this very topic!

How does your organization encourage volunteers to donate, and vice versa?

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