Volunteers OR Donors? Think Again.

Volunteer-donor hybrids are more common than you might think. This post looks at why this is the case and how to encourage it, as well as how to avoid some common mistakes.

Volunteer Donor Overlap is More Common than You Might Think.True or false?

Volunteers donate their time because they are unable or unwilling to donate money.

Sometimes? True. Most of the time? False.

According to research, two thirds of volunteers donate money to the same organizations they volunteer for. Also, volunteers tend to donate much more than non-volunteers.

Surprised? It’s actually pretty simple.

When someone volunteers for your organization, they are likely to feel closely connected to your organization and your mission. This is especially true if you regularly:

  • Show volunteers the impact their work has on the organization and its mission.
  • Keep volunteers in the loop on what’s going on throughout the organization.
  • Involve volunteers in organizational planning by encouraging feedback.

I know that I feel personally invested in the organization I volunteer for. I get excited about the organization’s successes, and I advocate vocally for the mission. And when I was asked to donate as part of a seasonal fundraising campaign – you bet I pulled out my credit card. I knew I was already making an impact, and I saw a chance to make that impact even bigger.

But (yes, there is a but)…

How would a volunteer feel if they received a generic thank you letter for their donation that didn’t acknowledge the other ways in which they contribute? Probably not so great.

How would a donor feel if they started volunteering, and received no acknowledgement of their history with your organization? Again, probably not so great.

This is one of reasons why separating your supporters into volunteers OR donors is a mistake. Does your volunteer manager know when one of their volunteers makes a donation? They should. Make sure these communication procedures are in place.

The ultimate goal is, of course, to make your all your supporters – volunteers, donors, and those who are both – feel like the amazing part of your organization that they are.