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.

The Volunteer as Brand Ambassador

Guest post by Tracy Kosolcharoen, Eventbrite

Eventbrite provides tips, tools and discounts to help nonprofits engage volunteers in fundraising around #GivingTuesday.As #GivingTuesday quickly approaches, many nonprofits have a single point of focus: fundraising. Nearly one third of nonprofit events on Eventbrite occur in the last quarter of the year. And during this busy time, organizers are constantly asking themselves, “How can I ensure my fundraiser is a smashing success without breaking my bank?”

Eventbrite has created an initiative, Give More Together, to help answer this very question. We’re waiving our service fees for nonprofit events occurring from December 1-6, 2014, and are excited to help you sell more tickets and collect donations when you sign up.

Another way to save money as you raise funds is through your volunteers. The truth is, volunteers can significantly impact the way attendees think of your organization. Oftentimes, guests cannot distinguish between a volunteer and a staff member, so the interactions they have will be directly associated with your brand.

This gives you the opportunity to turn every touch point – from parking to cleanup – into a positive reinforcement of your brand. By elevating the importance of your volunteers, you’ll also create a more meaningful experience for them, ultimately increasing their commitment to your cause.

Here are 3 easy steps to help you turn your volunteers into brand ambassadors:

1. Provide pre-event coaching

First, share the basics. Instill a love for your cause by explaining just how impactful your work is. Be sure to cover:

  • Your organization’s work, values and mission.
  • The purpose of this event, and how it fits in with the broader mission.
  • A general idea of why attendees are coming to the event.
  • Key leaders in the organization that will be at the event: founder, board members, etc.
  • The attendee profile and demographics so volunteers know what to expect. If you have VIP attendees, you may even want to show volunteers their photos and provide a brief background on each one, so volunteers are able to recognize guests that might need extra attention.

Then, set clear expectations:

Share your ground rules for dress code, your policy on eating, particularly if there’s food at the event, and general customer service guidelines, such as making eye contact and smiling. These pointers take only a few minutes to discuss and go a long way.

Also share your contact information or even create a chat group (Group Me, Line, and WhatsApp offer free solutions) so that volunteers can easily stay in touch and raise issues to you during the event.

2. Encourage greater involvement

Beyond assigned roles, each and every volunteer has a different vantage point on the live pulse of your event. Encourage them to use encounters with guests as an opportunity to gather feedback, with questions such as:

  • How is the event so far?
  • Anything more we can do to help you?

Have them compile feedback during their free moments, or after the shift. Encourage proactive service. If someone looks lost, volunteers can offer to assist or answer questions.

During the giving season and especially on #GivingTuesday, fundraising social media activity will be high. Your volunteers can serve as additional firepower behind your social media efforts, ensuring your event has a presence during this busy time. Encourage volunteers to share your posts and tweets with their networks.

If you have a dedicated person managing social media, you might also consider electing a few social media-savvy volunteers to tweet and post during the event itself. We say this with caution since social media can be hard to control, so if you are encouraging activity you will also want to ensure someone is able to react to any unexpected incidents.

Another option to solidify volunteers’ importance is by recognizing them in a printed program or online.

3. Thank your brand ambassadors

Share the results of their “ambassadorship.” From positive tweets about the event, to posting their volunteer photos to Facebook, remind them how valuable their support was to your guest experience.

Post-event, evaluate which brand ambassadors were most dedicated and helpful to your cause. You may want to reach out and thank them individually, or encourage them to take on volunteer leadership roles in the future.

Planning a charitable event? In addition to Give More Together, Eventbrite also offers ongoing discounts for nonprofits at https://www.eventbrite.com/npo/.

Tracy Kosolcharoen is a marketing manager at Eventbrite, where she works to help deliver more value to nonprofit event organizers through initiatives such as Give More Together for #GivingTuesday. She has also spent years managing marketing programs at American Express and OpenTable.

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?

Everydayhero: The Next Generation of Online Giving Integrates with VolunteerMatch

Everydayhero: The Next Generation of Online Giving Integrates with VolunteerMatchWhen we decide to do something at VolunteerMatch, we jump all the way in. Case in point: Our recent announcement about building a global volunteer engagement network. Not only are we “going global” by building networks of nonprofits and volunteers in other countries, we’re also welcoming great social good tools and resources from elsewhere into the U.S.

One of our newest partners is everydayhero, an innovative online giving service from Blackbaud. Just recently arrived in the United States by way of Australia, everydayhero moves beyond traditional fundraising and crowdfunding services to offer a holistic giving experience that not only enables people to fundraise, but also track and view all the activity that goes into supporting the causes they love.

See It All in One Place

See you entire Giving Footprint in one place on everydayhero to view the full scale of your impact.These days, donors are volunteers are donors. As nonprofits, we know the key is to build a dedicated, excited community of supporters that gives to our organization in multiple ways. Everydayhero provides a platform for your supporters to see their impact on a cause in a bunch of different ways, not just by donating.

What’s especially smart about this new platform is that it’s integrated with already existing tools to make the experience a well-connected part of users’ lives. Information is aggregated from Twitter, Facebook, VolunteerMarch, and MapMyFitness to create a unique Giving Footprint™ that grows over time.

Share everydayhero with your volunteers to help them realize the impact they're having.

How You Fit In

VolunteerMatch is excited that everydayhero is integrating our network to seamlessly track all of the hours spent volunteering and giving back. The platform also shows users more ways to volunteer in their communities for the causes they love.

So what does this mean for your organization?

Basically, just keep up the great work! Technology partnerships like this one with everydayhero enable VolunteerMatch to get your listings in front of even more great volunteers. So the more listings you post, the more your exposure to new supporters will increase – exponentially.

Share everydayhero with your volunteers to help them realize the impact of their work. And don’t forget to post your volunteer opportunities to VolunteerMatch!

Do You Qualify for a $1M Impact Grant?

Does your nonprofit qualify for an Impact Grant from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation?Does your nonprofit have an education or training initiative that you’d like to expand – significantly?

Does this initiative have the potential to reach A LOT of people, but requires a technology solution in order to exponentially scale?

If the answers to both questions are “Yes!!” then you could qualify for Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation’s Impact Grant. As nonprofit technology geeks ourselves, we think this opportunity seems too good to be true.

The Impact Grant offers recipients a two-year donation of Cornerstone software and services, including unlimited use of our learning management system (LMS) and access to a range of pro bono business consulting services. The grant is designed to support a select group of nonprofits that can effectively leverage Cornerstone’s learning and development technology in innovative and tangible ways for significant community impact.

Learn more about how the Impact Grant from the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation could help your nonprofit reach new heights.

This is a great opportunity to leverage technology to seriously expand your organization’s impact. Completed applications are due by Friday, March 7, 2014.

So if you’re interested in learning more, you can review the grant program guidelines and register for an information session here.

(Photo via rafael-castillo on Flickr)