Guest post by Kim Becker Cooper
Want to learn more about your volunteers as potential donors?There are five key data points that your nonprofit should find out, and all of this information can be found through the fundraising strategy of prospect research.
Data point #1 – Previous giving to your nonprofit
Past donations to your nonprofit are the best predictors of the potential for donors to turn into future prospects. While annual donors give smaller amounts, they can be nurtured over time to give more.
Imagine you have two volunteers: Stan and Wilbert. Stan makes an above-average annual salary, and he’s committed to giving back to his community by donating to your nonprofit. Meanwhile, Wilbert likes to help out at events, and he’s rich as a king, but he’s frugal and would rather invest his money in stocks and Forever stamps.
Over time, it’s probable that the data gained from prospect research can help to nurture Stan into increasing his donations. He has the means to do so, and his desire to help out increases as he grows closer to your nonprofit. Eventually, Stan could be convinced to give a major gift.
Contrastingly, even if Wilbert volunteers frequently, and even if his appreciation for your organization grows, altering his mindset on how to spend his money is a completely different matter. Just getting Wilbert to donate could be a challenge, let alone convincing him to give a major gift.
Stan and Wilbert demonstrate why philanthropic indicators matter more than wealth markers. It’s easier to convince a volunteer who already donates to give more than it is to convince someone who has no philanthropic tendencies to break from established behaviors.
A will to give matters, and a history of giving to your nonprofit shows that volunteers are already in the giving mindset. Requesting a gift then relies on employing good fundraising strategies.
Data point #2 – Previous giving to other nonprofits
Corporate volunteer grant programs have helped encourage more people than ever to get out and dedicate themselves to important causes. Many of these nonprofits reach out to their volunteers for donations, which is great for them, and also great for you.
How can gifts to other nonprofits be good for your outreach?
It’s likely that at least some of your volunteers also volunteer for one or more other nonprofits. If these volunteers donate to those nonprofits, then there’s a good chance that they’ll be willing to give to you, too.
Prospect research can help reveal the donation lists of other organizations. You can identify who among your volunteers gives to other organizations, how much they give, and how often. Your fundraisers can then reach out to the right volunteers, and keep their resources focused on high quality prospects.
Volunteers who give between $5k – $10k to a nonprofit are five times more likely than the average volunteer to donate elsewhere. When you’re efficiently identifying these donors with prospect research that ‘elsewhere’ can be your organization.
Data point #3 – Nonprofit involvement as a foundation trustee
Some of your volunteers may also volunteer as trustees for foundations. While foundation trustees tend to be wealthy, this is far from a sign of a prospect’s capacity to give.
People who work for nonprofits, even on the volunteer basis of being a trustee, understand the importanceof giving. With these people, receiving a major gift could be as simple as opening your mouth to ask.
An analysis of over 400 nonprofits demonstrated that a prospect’s participation as a foundation trustee was a more powerful predictor of future philanthropy than any wealth indicator.
Additionally, trustees tend to be well connected with the trustees of other foundations, as well as with nonprofit board members. These connections can prove to be future fundraising prospects – it can’t hurt to ask your volunteers for an introduction or two.
Data point #4 – Political giving
Political giving is a philanthropic sign that not only do volunteers want to give, but they donate to the causes they care about. When prospect research reveals that a volunteer has donated $2,500 or more to political causes in his or her lifetime, the data says that this volunteer is 14 times more likely than your average volunteer to make a philanthropic donation.
When your fundraising team knows which volunteers have proven histories of giving, they can more confidently approach these people for donations and ask for appropriate amounts.
Data point #5 – Real estate ownership
While real estate groups that encourage volunteerism help nonprofits to raise money, real estate itself can help your fundraising efforts, too. Volunteers who own $2+ million in real estate are 17 times more likely than the average volunteer to give to a nonprofit.
Even once you find fundraising prospects among your volunteers, don’t expect them to give too generously right away. A first donation is rarely a donor’s biggest gift, and it takes time to build a relationship that results in a volunteer wanting to donate a substantial amount.
In the meantime, your nonprofit can continue to leverage volunteer grant programs, as well as matching gifts that can double the smaller initial donations that your volunteers give.
Volunteerism can mean more than meaningful donations of time to your organization. While VolunteerMatch found that a volunteer’s lifetime service equates to about $3,075 worth of value, your nonprofit may be able to get more than that through donations.
Volunteering matters. It’s what allows nonprofits to do what they do and deliver positive impacts for communities. However, nonprofits need money, too, and volunteers can be a great place to look for donors. Volunteers already care about your organization, and a donation is just another step in building a long, happy, mutually beneficial relationship.
Kim Becker Cooper is the Marketing Director at DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. She has ten years of experience serving as a frontline fundraiser, prospect researcher, and consultant to nonprofits.