Asking Volunteers for More than Time

Your volunteers do everything from cleaning, to sorting donations, to fielding incoming phone calls, and everything in between. In fact, they are some of the most committed supporters of your organization - they're giving you free labor! So, why aren't you asking your volunteers to give more than just their time?

The most common response is the fear of offending a key stakeholder - "They're already giving their time; asking for money as well is asking too much." The problem is you're skipping over arguably the most loyal constituents of your organization. They've already proven they believe in your mission and want to help you. Volunteers already know about your organization, believe in your work, give their time to help your nonprofit thrive .... and you aren't asking them for a gift?

Now, I'm not saying to ask a volunteer for a gift the first time they set their foot in the door. But, at the very least, you should be offering information to your volunteers about how they can give more if they feel compelled. If your volunteers truly understand your mission and believe in your organization, they won't be offended by your asking of a donation. Worst-case scenario is a volunteer passes on making a donation, but it's highly unlikely you're going to have a mass volunteer walkout because you asked for a monetary gift.

Here are some ways you can go about making the ask:
  • Volunteer acknowledgments
    These folks are a special group, and they deserve special treatment. Just like donors, volunteers should receive acknowledgments. Whether it's an award, a dinner or banquet just for volunteers or thank-you notes, they should be shown they are appreciated, and their service should be recognized. If you have a volunteer acknowledgment program up and running, then you are in a great starting position to make an ask.
  • Volunteer newsletters
    If you mail a volunteer newsletter, consider including a remit slip and reply envelope. Or, if you send an e-newsletter, include a link to donate online. If you don't currently have a volunteer newsletter, think about starting one, even if it's just a once or twice a year thing. Or add them to your mailing list for your regular newsletter.
  • Volunteer packets
    Create a volunteer packet that includes more information about your organization and the impact of volunteers, a call-to-action and a response device. Make these packets known and available for volunteers to take.

The key is to ask for a gift and provide a way for your volunteers to make a donation if they wish. It all circles back to the number one reason why someone doesn't give to an organization - they simply were never asked. You never know - you may have a major donor sitting (or sorting donations) right underneath your nose.


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