Think about your biggest supporters in your personal life. These might be the closest people to you and they’d do anything to help you reach your goals. In the same way, your nonprofit’s biggest supporters are the people most closely involved with furthering your mission: your volunteers.

When you’re growing your donor base for fundraising, volunteers are the first people you should look to. They’re already passionate about your cause and dedicating their time to further your mission—volunteers are indispensable to your nonprofit. Here are three benefits of digging deeper into those relationships:

  1. Retain more volunteers over time.
  2. Increase volunteers’ lifetime value to your organization.
  3. Deepen volunteers’ engagement with your mission.

How do you better engage volunteers when they’re already aware of and involved with your organization’s cause? A data-driven approach to building relationships can help you learn more about your volunteers and how you can encourage them to donate. 

Choose a constituent relationship management software, or CRM, that will organize your donor data for you. The top CRMs for nonprofits can not only help you with data management and communication, but might also offer additional features like online donation forms and payment processing to make contributing easy for your volunteers. 

1. Retain more volunteers over time.

Your volunteers are already offering recurring support. Turn that dedication into recurring donations with the following tips:

Offer suggested donation amounts

Be straightforward with your volunteers. Out of everyone who encounters your nonprofit, your volunteers are the ones who know your work the best.

When communicating with volunteers, explain your goal and offer a reasonable donation suggestion that would help you reach it. For example, you might point out that several $10 donations would meet your fundraising goal. Volunteers could also be inclined to donate when they see that a reasonable donation on their part is a significant contribution to your goal.

Provide multiple ways to give

Your volunteers are already giving to your organization—they’re donating their time and effort to your cause. Be honest with them about the variety of contributions you need. There may not be a current opportunity for them to volunteer, but let them know that monetary contributions will similarly further your cause.

Make it easy to give by providing options. If your volunteers are very busy, a text-to-give option might be the most convenient way for them to donate. You could also start an online store for your nonprofit that sells branded merchandise. Since your volunteers are such avid supporters, it’s likely that they’d want to buy and wear your merchandise, especially when their money is going to a good cause.

Show appreciation for every contribution

Whether they’re donating time, labor, or money, your volunteers are the backbone of your nonprofit. Let them know how important they are by showing your appreciation. 

Consider writing a thank-you letter to each volunteer. It’s a thoughtful way to show your appreciation, and Fundraising Letters points out that these letters “can help volunteers feel a personal connection to your organization and form a relationship with your team.” 

Making your volunteers feel appreciated will keep them coming back and encourage them to deepen their involvement with your organization. Strengthen the foundation of your already-committed supporters to retain and grow your nonprofit’s volunteer and donor base.

2. Increase volunteers’ lifetime value to your organization.

A volunteer’s lifetime value is the value that all of their involvement provides to your nonprofit’s mission. But how can you quantify and track the lifetime value of volunteer hours or services provided? This isn’t to say that volunteering isn’t valuable—contributions of all types impact your organization. But this value can certainly be difficult to track when a contribution isn’t monetary.

By encouraging your volunteers to give, you’ll be able to track the exact value that their contributions add to your organization. And when your volunteers give consistently, you can estimate their contribution over a set number of years. CharityEngine suggests using an all-in-one CRM to help you organize this data so you can enrich donor relationships and inspire giving.

3. Deepen volunteers’ engagement with your mission.

An important part of the volunteer management cycle is engagement. If they’re active volunteers, they’re already engaged with your mission. But when volunteers have more than one way to get involved, their passion for your cause and their participation has the potential to increase even more. You can use these tips to recruit volunteers and increase their engagement:

  • Creating convenient contribution opportunities: Offering the chance to contribute in a quick easy way, such as through your online donation page, can help your volunteers feel easily involved. This can enhance their opinion of working with you and still bring value to your nonprofit.
  • Talking face-to-face at your next event: This will deepen your relationship with your volunteers, since you can get to know them better through a face-to-face conversation.
  • Asking them to involve a friend: This can bring like-minded people into your community and make contributing more fun for your volunteers.
  • Creating shareable social media posts: If your volunteers are already engaged with your social media, make informational posts that they can follow and share with their friends.

Recruiting donations in the midst of economic turbulence can be difficult, but dedicated volunteers will be your most loyal supporters. Make your requests specific to these supporters, their areas of interest, and their preferences. 

Connecting with volunteers’ areas of interest will also deepen their engagement with your mission. For example, if you know your volunteers regularly engage with your nonprofit on social media, consider starting a Facebook fundraiser or sharing a crowdfunding campaign on your organization’s accounts.

When it comes to supporting your organization, your volunteers will be among the most motivated to give. Plus, they probably have like-minded friends. Encourage them to spread the word and grow your fundraising efforts simply by word-of-mouth.

By turning your volunteer base into a donor network, your nonprofit can strengthen its community and receive unmatched support. Reach out to your volunteers first and tailor your fundraising to their interests when raising money for your cause. 

About the Author:
Philip Schmitz from CharityEngine
Philip Schmitz is the CEO and founder of cloud-services leader BIS Global, creators of the CharityEngine fundraising & communications technology platform. Founded in 1999, Phil has managed the vision and strategy for BIS's suite of integrated business applications & hosting tools used by more than 400 businesses & non-profits.