Volunteers around the world contributes to tens of millions of man hours every year, helping organisations to do more than would otherwise be possible. This investment is worth billions of pounds of labour costs with many volunteers providing strong skill-sets and long hours that drive NGOs forward.
However, volunteers are often viewed as a cost due to the need to train, monitor and support them. For already stretched organisations, taking on extra volunteers can cause additional burden and inefficiency. But what if you could recruit and train volunteers to support your organisation’s fundraising efforts?
If you can find the right people, or even just one person, and manage them well, fundraising volunteers can be a powerful asset to your organisation. Good fundraising is built on a wealth of knowledge and often paid staff don’t have the time to research as well as they would like because of the near constant demands to raise funds and hit targets. Just imagine how much more you could do if you had just an extra ten or twenty hours per week?
Just like recruiting staff for paid roles, recruiting volunteers for fundraising roles can be difficult and needs to be managed effectively. From the initial promotion of the role through to evaluating your volunteers performance, you should mirror the process used for hiring and managing staff. There is no reason to treat them especially different structurally as you simply want to support and empower them to work to the best of their ability.
Where you need to treat volunteers differently is on the human side and being willing to be significantly more flexible and accommodating than you would be with your staff. Volunteers have different motivations for volunteering with your organisation and you need to be able to give them something in return. Each individual volunteer will have different motivations for working with you and it is imperative that you discover those ambitions so that you can use them to drive your new recruit forward.
A crucial point to remember with all volunteers is that a voluntary role is exactly that, voluntary. Unlike paid staff they generally have less attachment to your organisation as well as other things in their life to manage from childcare to education. A good manager will take every chance to praise a volunteer as well being understanding and supportive when the volunteer is not available for any reason, even though their absence will cause you more work. The more you can support and nurture your volunteers the more they will want to give back to both you personally and your organisation.
So where can you find fundraising volunteers? The same place you would find any other volunteers really. University’s, Social Media, School’s, Workplaces, Community Groups, Religious Institutions and anywhere else where you can meet people with a community spirit. Try to promote the fundraising volunteer role as something where they can make an immediateimpact upon your work and the lives of the people you work with. Make it real and show them the difference they can make by providing their support.
When you are recruiting a new fundraising volunteer what skills should you look for? That answer really depends on the role you had in mind for them. If you are looking for someone to conduct grant research then good administration and internet skills will be very close to the top. If you are rather looking for someone to stand with a tin collecting money for your cause outside the local football match then it would be best to have someone who is great with people and is outgoing.
If you’re not sure exactly how you would use a new fundraising volunteer or you could use their help in any way that they can, then it may be best to build their role around their skills and desires. Is there something that they would like to do? Is there a part of the role that they have experience in? Do they have any skills that could crossover into fundraising? There are so many different ways and approaches to raising funds that almost any personality and skill-set can find a niche with your fundraising department if you support them properly.
So what can you get them to? Again, this depends on your current fundraising priorities, your existing resources, future plans and available opportunities. Here are just a few things that a volunteer could do that would aid your organisation’s ability to raise funds.
- · Maintain a spreadsheet of upcoming grant opportunities
- · Assist in writing and sending thank you letters
- · Making phone calls to donors and potential donors
- · Running a fundraising stall at an event
- · Creating fundraising materials such as posters and emails
- · Using social media to promote fundraising opportunities
- · Updating your website with ways to support your organisation
- · Researching companies to see who might be willing to support your cause
- · Managing equipment, supplies and other materials
- · Putting up posters
There are a tonne of different things that a volunteer can do to assist a fundraising department. How you use them is up to you. I know from my own experience that volunteers can do some amazing things and that I owe a lot of my success to great people giving up their free time to support a good cause. Recruiting a fundraising volunteer may turn out to be one of the best decisions you can take.
Does your organisation have any fundraising volunteers? Have you volunteered in fundraising? Let us know in the comments.