Recruiting & Retaining Volunteers
Ask for Help
The simplest way of recruiting volunteers to help with fundraising is just by asking. Seems like the most obvious way to start but sometimes it’s hard to ask for help. It’s impossible for just one person or a few people to take on an entire fundraising load. There is no prize at the end of the day for the person that is most exhausted. Asking for help is a sign of maturity and wisdom. Most offers to help are sincere, follow up when help is offered.
Burnout is REAL, share the work.
Don’t be afraid to hear no. Perhaps the “no person” can lead you to a “yes person”. When you hear “no”, then ask “do you know anyone that might be able to help?” A “no” now, maybe a “yes” at another time. Don’t be afraid to ask at another time or for another task. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing.
Match the volunteer help with the right skills. When a volunteer does raise their hand to help first thank them! Then talk through what tasks need to be accomplished and how the person may help. Allow the volunteer to choose and not feel pressured into a job out of their comfort zone.
Fox Tip: Ask for help then match the volunteer with what they WANT to do.
Be a Leader
Fundraising efforts do need to be coordinated. Working with vendors, event personnel, volunteers and internal ‘boards’ need to be organized. Use already in place checks and balances for the finances. Be honest about time commitment in general, timelines and key deadlines. Offer this information to the volunteers so as to set clear expectations on both sides. Never take for granted a volunteer.
Lead with a vision and a strategic plan. Lead with example by showing and doing rather than telling. Credibility and trust is garnered very rapidly when there is clear communication and appreciation. Prove that ALL jobs and ALL volunteers are valuable to the overall mission.
Once a volunteer is up to speed on the final result of a task empower the person to accomplish the task the way they want to do it. For instance if the task is stuffing envelopes, sealing, stamping as long as the job is done it does not matter how. If the volunteer wishes to stuff, seal, stamp, each instead of the usual stuff all, then seal all, then stamp all then let them do it their way. As long as the final goal is accomplished it’s okay. If you hear yourself saying “that’s not the way we do it” then STOP. Rephrase, in more of a friendly tone and suggest a different and potentially more efficient fashion. DON’T micromanage and criticize.
Leaders appreciate feedback and new ideas. Including fresh eyes on an old process can lead to innovation. Embracing opinions can foster new leaders which is always helpful in building a strong volunteer team.
Motivation for volunteers is from within and satisfaction that time is spent helping a cause. Volunteers are NOT employees and must be regarded a little differently than a standard workplace. Inspire with frequent feedback on how the efforts are helping. Remember any amount of time volunteering is personal time sacrificed.
Whenever you say to yes something, there is less for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.
~~ Lysa TerKeurst
Volunteer appreciation should be a continuous process. Thank volunteers for offering to help and then again for helping. Thank in person, by email, by phone call or text. Recognize volunteers in front of their peers and throughout all levels of the organization. It costs nothing to thank a volunteer by email and cc’ing the Board at the same time. The acknowledgement of gratitude has heartfelt value.
This word-of-mouth organic expansion of the volunteer base tends to provide the most job satisfaction and quality of time for the group and the volunteer. The easiest way to recruit is to encourage returning volunteers to bring along a friend. A happy volunteer is a returning volunteer. A happy volunteer will want to share a positive experience.
Find a complete FREE Volunteer Appreciation Guide developed by Wild Apricot which offer tips and advice for small nonprofits and membership organizations just getting started with or looking to refresh their volunteer recognition planning and procedures.
Fun Fox Fact
Foxes are considered solitary animals, and although they may form family units when their offspring are very young, they generally do not travel in groups as wolves do.
Don’t be like a Fox here! The more volunteers in YOUR pack the better!
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