Expand your volunteer base by engaging donors


Good morning, DonorDreams readers! Tis the season, and as you know my aggressive travel schedule as of late necessitated me reaching out to my circle of awesome blogger friends for a little help. Today’s guest post is from Corbit Harrison and our friends at VolunteerHub. Corbit shares how you can find great volunteer prospects from among your donor base. I hope you enjoy this morning’s post.  Here’s to your health!  ~Erik


3 Tips for Asking Donors to Volunteer

volunteersIf you’re seeking to expand your volunteer base, you may not need to look very far.

In fact, you may already have some terrific candidates within your reach — right there in your donor database. These individuals obviously care about your mission, so converting donors to volunteers many times is simply about communication.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few different strategies to engage your donors in creative ways.

Send a Survey

In general, people love to give their opinions. If you develop a survey for donors, you can get a better picture of them as a whole and also learn more about them individually. Ask them about their professions, interests, and hobbies. Based on your donors’ responses, you may be able to pinpoint very specific skills-based volunteer opportunities that would engage them.

Of course, go ahead and list some of your ongoing opportunities as well to see if those catch some interest. Be sure to ask if you may contact them about volunteering, and, if so, make sure to have them include their name and contact information.

Have Volunteers Share Their Stories

Your organization may want to hold a special recognition night for your donors. At an event such as this, it’s a time when you can communicate your mission and accomplishments. This is also the perfect time to engage donors by having a volunteer as a keynote speaker.

There is a move in the nonprofit world to “tell your story” to advance your cause – and with good reason. Statistics are important, of course, but numbers can pale in comparison to a message from the heart. Choose a volunteer who is fully committed to your cause and ask him or her to build a presentation around a couple key ideas. Among these should be how volunteering has impacted the volunteer’s life and the lives of the clients your organization serves. Make sure to coordinate with the volunteer so you can have some multimedia that compliments the message in terms of pictures and/or video.

After the volunteer’s speech, your volunteer coordinator can make a quick call-to-action pitch and outline upcoming volunteer opportunities. Make sure to communicate that donors can register for these opportunities before leaving the recognition night activities. Set up a landing page that is easily accessible via smartphone or mobile device. In doing so, you may get a handful of registrations before the night is over.

Develop Case Studies

Just as it’s important to tell volunteer success stories, also consider putting together a case study featuring the people you serve. This could be a flyer that you include with a donation letter or a mailer you could send on its own.

Once having their approval, interview them to find out (in their own words) what your organization means to them. If you can have them talk about how your volunteers have impacted their lives, even better. Make this flyer bold, colorful, and eye-catching with pictures of your clients (preferably with a volunteer). Be sure to highlight a few important quotes from your clients as pull-outs, and most importantly, don’t forget to include a call to action that directs people to your volunteer registration site. Cross promote these case studies on your organization’s website, blog, and email newsletter.

Expand Your Volunteer List with Donors

Encouraging donors to volunteer helps supporters see the good work your organization does. This is likely to further cement the relationship with your nonprofit and hopefully spur even more generous monetary donations in the future.


Corbit Harrison is the Chief Operating Officer for VolunteerHub and has been actively helping nonprofit organizations better engage constituents for over 10 years.  Connect with Corbit on Linkedin.

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on December 1, 2015, in nonprofit, volunteers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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