People who volunteer and donate money to an organization are known as “super supporters” for a good reason. These philanthropists are some of your most valuable supporters, as donors who volunteer are more likely to continue giving annually because they’re more engaged. Almost 90% of volunteers say there’s a correlation between their work and the causes they support. In general, volunteering usually prompts individuals to contribute financially.
Let’s talk more about how to turn your volunteers into financial contributors, too.
Volunteers vs. Donors — Understanding the Differences
In many volunteer organizations, the lines between those who give time and those who give money can become blurred. Both types of contributors require a recruitment and retention strategy. They also share a philanthropic impulse and believe in your mission.
For many organizations, top donors may also volunteer, while some team members may also donate financially. When trying to convert volunteers into donors, it’s essential to recognize how these groups differ. Understanding that in-kind helpers may show their support differently from your monetary donors helps you tailor a conversion strategy that fits this unique group.
Some of the differences include:
- Level of time commitment: While donors only need to write a check or give online, your volunteers have varying levels of time commitment. Some may spend hours doing pro-bono work every week, while others only have time for a few quick tasks or a day of service. Essentially, volunteers must commit to your cause for a long time to make a sizeable impact, while a donor can make a large one-time donation to make a difference.
- Barriers to entry: Any donor with the funds to give can become a supporter of your organization. While the barrier to entry for volunteering may seem lower because there’s no money involved, volunteers go through an application and screening process. They need to have the skills, availability, accountability, and personalities that fit your needs. Some may get rejected because they don’t fit your needs. Virtually anyone can be a donor.
- Level of involvement: You may never meet donors in person. They might contribute online from across the country or even anonymously. Meanwhile, volunteers usually work right alongside the rest of your team. With enough nurturing, they may become regular faces around the office and even be pivotal members of your organization. This added level of involvement can strengthen their relationship with your organization over that of an anonymous donor.
How to Convert Volunteers to Donors
Asking volunteers to donate more than their time can be a bit of a balancing act. Your volunteers are crucial to your organization and already give much in terms of time and work. The good news is an effective volunteer retention program may naturally convert some team members into donors over time. Many of the things you do to breed goodwill amongst your team are the same things that can convince a philanthropic person to contribute to your cause.
A few targeted strategies aimed at your volunteers can convince them to start donating, too. Consider tips such as the following:
1. Say Thank You and Celebrate Their Commitment
Saying thank you is a quick and easy way to show volunteers you appreciate their hard work. One way to do this is to track the things your team does — such as hours served, meals delivered, or pounds of trash picked up, and point it out in a personalized thank-you message.
Depending on your organization’s size, you could write handwritten notes, mail letters, or send heartfelt emails. These actions help volunteers see their individual impact and know their work is appreciated. For some, seeing their impact quantified may prompt them to wonder what else they can do to grow that impact. For others, a simple thank-you helps renew their commitment, opening them up to become a donor down the road.
2. Track Key Volunteer and Donor Metrics
Tracking data about your volunteers and donors helps you identify patterns among the people who’d make suitable donors. You can consider data about your current volunteer donors and look for existing team members who meet a similar profile. Consider whether people who give lots of time are more likely to donate or whether people who only have time for a few short tasks might be willing to write a check to increase their support.
You can find lots of data within Volgistics on your most engaged volunteers, such as the number of hours or shifts served, how long certain team members have been with you, and more. You might make it a rule not to start asking for donations until someone has worked with you for a while and use this data to decide who to ask. Alternatively, you might customize different donation requests aimed at new and old volunteers or team members with high or low time commitments.
3. Treat Volunteers With Respect
It’s essential to recognize that your unpaid team members are already donating. Your volunteers provide vital services you’d otherwise have to pay to receive or do yourselves.
In 2020, the estimated value of one volunteer hour grew to $28.54 — almost 5% over 2019 figures. Therefore, any volunteer who contributes more than five hours per week provides a weekly value that exceeds $150. At that rate, many of your volunteers may be giving more than some of your financial donors. Professionals who provide their services pro-bono, such as accountants or lawyers, may be giving you far more than that.
As such, your organization must treat time and skill donors as VIPs, just like you do financial donors. Instruct your team on how to treat volunteers and why it’s so critical. It’s important to place value in them and the work they do. Respect their time by not asking them to work more hours than they’re scheduled. Try to assign them duties that match their skills and interests. When you treat your volunteers with the level of respect they deserve, they feel more committed to your organization.
4. Ask Outright
Given what the data says about volunteers and donors, many volunteers will go on to contribute financially to your organization. While some people may give their time because they don’t have much money to offer, many other volunteers are looking for more than one way to give back.
Consider an older volunteer who’s on a fixed income. While they may not have much to give right now, they might plan on leaving a gift to your organization through estate planning. A young person may volunteer their time now and move into charitable giving after gaining more financial security. Additionally, someone who has less time for volunteering than they used to might switch to giving money as they cut back on their service hours.
Some people may have a plan, while others need a little push to make a financial commitment. Asking is the best way to know for sure and to let volunteers know they have the option to give. While asking outright is often necessary, it’s important to be tactful at the same time. Recognize all that your volunteers already provide and be careful not to ask too much or too often.
5. Look for Corporate Volunteer Grants
Volunteer grants are an excellent way for your volunteers to provide a financial contribution without them having to spend a dime. Many companies make volunteer grants on behalf of their employees who volunteer. All employees have to do is let their company know how many hours they work, and the company will donate to the organization to match their contributions. Some programs may ask for some records of the hours worked, making tracking volunteer hours with Volgistics even more useful.
6. Create a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Drive for Volunteers
It’s often best to ask for small amounts first, whether you’re engaging donors or volunteers. You could set up a small campaign just for your volunteer base, such as a peer-to-peer drive. Asking volunteers to recruit others to donate on their behalf and adding a fun, competitive spin on the fundraiser may be more viable for some volunteers than asking them directly. In a friendly competition, some might contribute to their own drives to boost their numbers.
Learn How Volgistics Can Help You Track and Communicate With Donors
Volgistics volunteer management software is a unique tool that helps volunteer organizations work with their team more effectively. It offers volunteers a portal to track hours and report for duty, and can run reports about your volunteers’ service records to help you identify the best supporters to engage. Meanwhile, you get an easy-to-navigate database full of the insights and communication features you need to tailor your fundraising asks to volunteers.
The software also acts as a contact information database with tools to send emails and text directly to volunteers, letting you craft and send the perfect appeal to every volunteer. To learn more see Volgistics for yourself, register for a live demonstration or check out a Volgistics sample account today.