Volunteers Give 10x the Dollars | npENGAGE

Volunteers Give 10x the Dollars

By on Apr 10, 2012


“As it happens, a lot of our volunteers are donors,” says Dora Chan. And she should know – she’s what colleagues refer to as the “database whiz” at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. And in fact, her statement is true of the wider nonprofit sector: a recent study by VolunteerMatch and Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund found that 67% of volunteers also give money to the organizations where they invest time and talent. You might be asking: why should I care?

Well, for one thing, could your team answer this: “To what extent does our own volunteer list overlap with our donor list?” Would it be a major time-sink to go compare two or more lists? Is it possible there’s a population where you could be raising 10x what you’re raising now??

(I imagine there are multiple people at your organization who would care about that last one.)

“When people volunteer, their money is not far behind,” says a trusted fundraising friend. That meets the common-sense sniff-test to me personally. In retrospect, I’m certain it was no coincidence that I just made my first donation to my neighborhood YMCA, just weeks after finishing up a 2-month stint as a volunteer basketball coach. I wasn’t thinking about the two types of involvement when I made the gift, but I certainly was picturing my pee-wee players and their parents and siblings when I considered what the Y’s Partners of Youth Campaign could provide my community. Intimate involvement yielded stronger affinity. Pulling out my credit card wasn’t nearly as challenging as getting up and being enthusiastic and nurturing eight Saturday mornings in a row.

Which leads to my next point: who exactly is recruiting your future donors?

In a brief but smart blog post on Volunteer Manager job qualifications, volunteering guru Jayne Cravens wrote that the ideal role is “not merely the purveyor of free labor” but instead might have responsibilities like:

  • Community engagement, demonstrating that the community invests in the organization and believes in its mission
  • Building the capacities of other employees to involve volunteers in their work and supporting employee involvement of volunteers in a variety of roles, including in leadership roles
  • Being up-to-date on legal issues, political rhetoric and trends that can affect volunteer involvement
  • Creating ways for volunteer involvement to relate directly to the organization’s mission

Jayne really takes a long and wide view regarding volunteers and how to cultivate them. She consults internationally regarding recruiting, training, deploying and retaining today’s skilled and successful volunteers – using especially the new online and social techniques consumers have come to expect. And she’s literally writing the book on online volunteering (due out this year).

We’re very excited that Jayne will be our guest speaker at this month’s free Convio webinar: “Volunteer Management: 5 Trends that Can Improve Your Fundraising Bottom Line.” She’ll share the top 5 trends she’s identified at the local, national, and international level, what’s working best with regards to keeping volunteers engaged, and how to set yourself up for success with community involvement in today’s hectic environment, when every volunteer (and prospective donor) is just a click away from another game of “Angry Birds.”

This stuff matters. 44% of volunteers say that – if an organization cannot take advantage of their specific skills – they will go volunteer elsewhere. And now that we know that these folks give 10x what other donors do, that’s a lot of VIP wallets potentially headed out the door. Everyone should care about that.

P.S.  Be sure to save your seat: pre-register now for “Volunteer Management: 5 Trends that Can Improve Your Fundraising Bottom Line” on Tuesday, April 24th, at 11 a.m. Central time.


From time to time, a guest blogger will appear on npENGAGE. Guest bloggers are industry experts contributing useful, relevant content to the conversation on npENGAGE. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, contact the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *