Your donor decides to come volunteer at your organization. Wonderful! Volunteers save nonprofit organizations millions of dollars a year. But the experience a donor has with your staff, and especially with your Volunteer Director or Coordinator, can actually hurt donations if you are not careful.
Many nonprofit organizations are not sure where to place the Volunteer Department. Does is fall under programming, since it is helping to fill the gaps? Is it its own department, free to decide how volunteers are used and assigned? Is it under development or advancement since volunteering is a form of giving? Arguments could be made for any of these.
But, where I most often see issues is the silo volunteer departments create between them and the rest of the organization. Volunteer Directors see their job as helping lift the load for the staff, as administrator of volunteer duties, or just a friend to each individual volunteer. Whatever the case, these directors tend to separate their work from the other departments.
Volunteer Directors should see themselves as an extension of the development and advancement department. Development experts say that potential major donors can be found in:
- People who give annually (such as a $500+ one-time gift a year)
- Donor volunteers who give at least once a year
Volunteers that have great experiences are more prone to give financially and give more often or at a higher level. But if there is no coordination with the development department and the volunteer department, you may be missing major donor cultivation opportunities.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How does your Major Gift Officer or Development Director know when a potential major donor is on-site?
- How does your Volunteer Director communicate with the Development Director?
- What cultivation experiences are volunteers having with your organization?
- Does your Volunteer Director keep relationship building with volunteers all to themselves?
- How are you tracking if volunteers are also giving? Are they increasing their giving as someone is cultivating the relationship? How would you track this?
- How can your directors plan cultivation activities together that encourages and supports the volunteers?
- When was the last time you did a wealth screening on your volunteer lists?
- When was the last time you surveyed your volunteers on their volunteering experience?
As your team understands the interconnectedness of their work, and integrate the efforts of cultivating volunteer donors, your organization can reap the benefits of people who love and support you with their time, talent, and treasure.
Let’s talk more about cultivating major donor relationships on a free coaching call. Just let me know you’d like to talk >>