A fact that surprises people who are new to fundraising is that more than 80% of all donations actually come from individuals – not corporations, foundations, service clubs or other institutional sources. Another shocking detail is that most individual donors are not affluent, but people of relatively modest standing and wealth with deep affinities for the causes they support.
One considerably less astonishing fact among non-profit veterans is that volunteers are commonly some of the most passionate stakeholders a charity can possess. Many begin offering their time, energy and talents to a particular organization because there is an aspect of its work or mission with which they identify. Yet for some mysterious reason, volunteers are rarely considered as individual prospects for making monetary gifts by those managing charitable fundraising appeals.
To shed some light on this understated reality, below are five (5) solid reasons why your volunteers make great individual financial donors for any cause:
1) Volunteers already believe in your cause.
There is no need to attempt to win over the support of your volunteers because they are already sold. In many cases, volunteers are never approached or asked to get involved with a charity. They choose to give of their time and efforts organically. With the passage of time, a volunteer’s affinity for the charity’s work and mission grows stronger.
2) Volunteers want to help as much as they can.
Your volunteers’ willingness to help in any way they can and participate in as many activities as possible increases because they see firsthand the difference they are making. Whether it is smiles on faces, witnessing people emerge from adverse situations, enjoying the camaraderie of others or simply the “warm & fuzzies” they experience each time they take part, volunteers KNOW their efforts have impact. Volunteers realize that the lives of others are better as a result of their involvement, and this alone often inspires them to strive to do more.
3) Volunteers are aware of the importance of your charity’s work.
Since your volunteers have had the privilege of seeing the impact of their own gift of time and energy, they have had ample opportunity to witness how vital your organization’s entire set of programs are for your community’s well-being. If you properly steward relations with your volunteers by showing them the additional impact of other team members, you will enhance their affinity even further!
4) Volunteers are already accustomed to being asked.
The fear of requesting the support of an individual donor prospect for the first time can be overwhelming for those who are new to running funding appeals. However, the good news when you are approaching volunteers is you are dealing with prospects who are extremely used to being asked to support the cause. The only difference is they are normally asked to give their time as opposed to their money. Provided the amount sought is moderate and well within their means, the act of soliciting their financial support involves a small and painless shift of focus. There is no reason why they should feel less passionate and enthusiastic about donating their “treasure” along with their time and talent towards their charity’s mission and vision.
5) Volunteers are likely to attract additional donors.
A signal of how devoted volunteers are to a cause is the extent to which they encourage their family, friends and co-workers to join them in advancing it. In many instances, volunteers will ask those closest to them to join them in actively assisting with a volunteer activity whether it is being a Big Brother or Big Sister, wrapping gifts in a shopping mall Christmas Charity Gift Wrap Station, setting up a Silent Auction Table at a Gala or stuffing envelopes for a Mother’s Day Appeal. Consequently, many of these friends and family members also develop an organic affinity for the mission and work of the organization. Thus seeking the financial commitments of more volunteers can be one of the most effective methods of acquiring new donors for your base.
Bear in mind the reason why most volunteers do not give money is they have never been asked for it. Not only will you be pleasantly surprised by the results if you engage in this practice, you might also discover that requesting donations from your volunteers will be a major feature of your organization’s long-term funding sustainability strategy.