Today I wanted to share a little more about how we can blur the lines between volunteers and donors and create stronger connections with both groups. I know traditionally, many organizations keep these list separate— that Development communicates with donors and that we, as leaders of volunteers, only communicate with volunteers. But, there’s so much to gain on both sides when we think about collaboration!
I know if can feel awkward to ask our volunteers - who already give us their valuable time - to also contribute financially, but hear me out! First, donating money, just like donating time, is always optional. We don’t want to make anyone feel guilty for not being able to support our organization financially, and different volunteers will be comfortable donating different amounts. Don’t take the ask off the table because they’re already donating time; instead, think about how a volunteer - who is already giving time - may want to give financially to support the work they’re already doing.
I’ve personally asked volunteers to give money to fund the tools and supplies they use to do their work. They knew I’d been asking for more budget, and my organization (not VolunteerMatch!) wasn’t coming through. They raised so much we were actually able to upgrade! I’ve also successfully asked volunteers to donate to cover onboarding expenses for other volunteers who may not be able to afford them, like training fees and background checks.
On the other side we can think about how we might be able to design volunteer opportunities for donors. Our organization’s existing donors obviously care about the mission and the work - how can we encourage them to give their time too? Depending on your donor base, you may want to think about skills-based or project-based opportunities. And, if you have single-day or special events inviting donors to participate could be a nice way to show them how their financial contributions support the work of the organization.
No matter which way you go - inviting volunteers to donate, or donors to volunteer - the most important thing to remember is the message and the story you tell. Your communications with these existing stakeholders should acknowledge the current relationship and invite them to strengthen it by participating in a new way. Don’t send out a generic message about needing help or just add your volunteers to your existing year-end campaign. Make sure they know you know who they are when you make that new ask!