Financial ManagementVolunteer Management

How to unite volunteers and donors with nonprofit software

Charitable organizations should avoid locking donors and volunteers into specific categories. Unified nonprofit software helps charities remove limiting labels on contributors and provides resources to further engage donors and volunteers in new ways of giving.

It’s not a good idea to view volunteers and donors as two entirely different entities. Though there are significant disparities between the two, recognizing that they are both strong supporters of a cause is important. Building strong relationships with both types of constituents has a huge impact on the success of an organization.

Volunteers vs. donors
Data accumulated from a survey conducted by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund on volunteerism and charitable giving is significant to organizations debating how to classify their contributors. The survey found that on average, participants who had volunteered in the last year contributed 10 times more funding to charities than those with no volunteering experience. Of those that had volunteered in the previous 12 months, 67 percent donated money to the same charities at which they had volunteered and planned on giving more in subsequent years compared to non-volunteers. Finally, 66 percent of respondents agreed that philanthropic contributions include giving both time and money.

“Sixty-six percent of survey respondents agreed that philanthropic contributions include giving both time and money.”

Energize, a consulting firm that specializes in volunteerism, stated that monetary donations may also follow volunteers to an organization. Employers often will match charitable contributions for an employee’s chosen charity. Volunteers who pass away may decide to leave a small fund for their favorite organization. Sometimes, volunteers simply get too busy with family or work obligations to give time and energy to projects and prefer sending a check or making an online donation instead.

On the other hand, when people run into tough times financially, they may decide to volunteer rather than offering money. When a volunteer retires from his or her primary profession, a fixed income or retirement fund may prevent them from spending excess cash on charities. These are scenarios in which a donor can quickly turn into a valuable volunteer.

For nonprofits interested in increasing their donor and volunteer databases, these are crucial insights that should influence operations. By communicating with various contributors and analyzing data accumulated through unified nonprofit software, charities can maintain strong relationships and build new connections with their constituents.

Staff collaboration
There is no way to effectively engage both donors and volunteers if a nonprofit’s staff members do not work together. Those team members focused on raising funds should regularly meet with those in charge of volunteer recruitment to find out which needs are met and which ones need help.

Analyze member databases
Take a look at both donors and volunteers to find out how they’ve been contributing to the nonprofit. If they haven’t participated in some time, reach out to determine why. Perhaps they need a new option for involvement that will re-ignite their passion for the cause. Also reach out to current participants to discover their reasons for giving time or money.

Volunteering and donating are more similar than many organizations think.

Be honest with constituents
Joyce Lewis-Andrews, the director of volunteer services for Vincentian Collaborative Systems, strongly advised organizations to be up front about what it costs to set up and execute a successful fundraiser. Volunteers may not know how much money it takes to achieve a certain goal, and donors may not understand the many planning stages necessary for an event. Making this information clear helps people decide where they may be needed but haven’t given before.

Have a plan
When making an ask or introducing a new contribution method to members, be direct and send a message with a purpose. Contributors need to know what it is they are being asked to do, whether it’s volunteering at an event or sending in a donation.