Wait a second. Aren’t volunteers already donating their time? Is it asking too much for monetary gifts as well? Yes, they are and no, it’s not. Let us explain.

Trends show that volunteers want to donate money. In a 2020 study, a third of millennials give more monetary donations because they’re volunteers. Two-thirds of all respondents said they volunteered within the previous year.

These donors aren’t just volunteers, they’re active volunteers and they want to give your nonprofit more support. So let’s talk about how to make that happen.

Steward Your Volunteers Like They’re Donors

The volunteer process is very important because it sets the tone for the volunteer's experience. Making the recruitment and onboarding process as seamless as possible is key to not just securing the volunteer but also to inspire them to become donors in the future. As with any business, positive experiences are more likely to result in repeat experiences.

When volunteers are well taken care of, they feel valued and will likely volunteer again and again. The more they are engaged with your nonprofit organization, the more likely they are to make a monetary contribution. Make that contribution easy by providing a donation link for online registration and a money bank for in-person registration.

There are many things you can do to sufficiently steward your volunteers. Put yourself in their shoes and think about some features and experiences you would like to see as a volunteer. Send a survey and ask them what they loved about their recent engagements and where they’d like to see improvements.

Treat Your Volunteers Like They’re Donors

Sometimes people avoid doing something because they don’t identify with the label attached to the action 一 I’m a volunteer, not a donor. Help your volunteers see that they can be both.

Translate Time Into Money

It’s easy to communicate how a dollar makes an impact. A $100 donation bought 600 pencils. A $5,000 donation covered 140 rental application fees. Donors love to hear how their dollars are benefiting the cause.

When you think more deeply about the impact of a volunteer, you can communicate their impact in dollars as well. Ten hours of mentorship helped a student earn a $1,000 grant. Phone banking brought in $10,000 of donations.

Give Special Recognition

Help volunteers feel appreciated for their physical efforts just as much as donors are appreciated for their donations. Some organizations like to highlight specific sponsors because of the amount of money they’re giving. Remember that the effort of your volunteers can translate into that same amount of money.

Segment your volunteers similarly to how you segment your donors and give special recognition to those who participated in activities that made a significant difference. If a $10,000 donation lands a donor a distinguished place on your website, don’t you think the volunteers who participated in the phone bank deserve similar acknowledgement? 

In addition to public recognition, send your volunteers special thank you’s. This can be videos from the event facilitators, personalized emails, phone calls, or even handwritten notes. Start treating your volunteers like donors and they’ll likely become donors.

Track Your Volunteers Like They’re Donors

Knowing donor retention rates, total donations given, etc. helps you discern who will likely donate again. In the same way, you really should be tracking volunteer engagement. Here are some metrics you should consider tracking in our volunteer management system:

  • Volunteer hours
  • Event attendance
  • Email open and click rates
  • Social media engagement
  • Survey results
  • Employer information

Create an LTV Report

Lifetime Value (LTV) is the dollar value of a continued relationship between you and someone else 一 in this case, your volunteer. Using the data you’re collecting with volunteer management software like Civic Champs, you can easily generate a volunteer profile that details the impact of each volunteer. You may have to interpret the impact as it varies from organization to organization.

Knowing the overall impact of a volunteer can help you gauge which efforts you should encourage more volunteers to participate in. You can also celebrate milestones and send customized messaging that remind volunteers how much they contributed to your cause. Thanking someone for their efforts that lead to over $20,000 in donations over the course of 2 years is easily done with an LTV report.

Share Donor Opportunities According to Their Interests

As you’re tracking where your volunteers are donating their time, you’ll find trends that give insight to what each volunteer is most interested in. Campaigns for recruitment can include specific messaging about their impact: when time is donated, when money is donated, and when both time and money are given.

People are more likely to give to something they have a special interest in. So, pay attention to where they sign up and use those events as an opportunity to invite them to give monetary gifts.

Market Your Volunteers Like They’re Donors

Sponsors love to share why they’re dedicated to a cause. How much more so are your volunteers?

Consider running a testimony campaign inviting your volunteers to share their experiences on social media. They can talk about some of the activities they did and what drew them to volunteer. When people talk about what they love to do, they remind themselves why they love to do it.

This love can deepen their passion for the cause and increase their desire to do more. Having only so many hours in a day, your volunteers can do more by giving donations. And even if they haven’t yet decided to do so, their friends and family may be so inspired and donate on their behalf.

Ask Your Volunteers Like They’re Donors

Have you asked your volunteers to donate? We know the squeaky wheel gets the oil but you might not think about actually asking the people who are literally working right alongside you. Sometimes people are waiting for the green light.

An effective way to get gifts from donors is to provide them with a few impactful amounts to choose from. Oftentimes, nonprofits will specify the impact each amount makes for the cause. Donate $35 to cover a rental application fee, $400 to help with the deposit, or $2,000 to help with 1st-month’s rent.

People respond better to a few choices compared to an open ended question like: How much should I give? Because they’re already giving their time, you may want to encourage volunteers to give small, recurring donations. Microdonations like $15/month could go over well with a volunteer.

Using Civic Champ's award-winning micro-donations feature, your organization can automate small donation asks of your volunteers at the right time with the right message.

Craft a Personalized Message

Be careful to word your request in a way that doesn’t minimize the value of their time. You don’t want to convert volunteers into donors but rather into volunteers who donate. Make a big deal out of the time they committed to your cause and emphasize how an additional donation, even something small, can elevate the work they’ve already done. Connect the impact of their donation to their current role in your organization.

Use this template to help get your started:

  • Thank them for their time. A general thank you is very impersonal and not really appropriate for someone with whom you’ve likely worked with, side by side. Using the data you captured in their volunteer profile, create a personalized thank you that details the hours they contributed, the activities they participated in, and the impact they made.

Hi there, Sara!

Above all else, we thank you for the 5 hours of support you provided at the Knock Lupus Out of the Park baseball tournament. Having you greet and register all the teams made it possible for us to raise $1,250 for the lupus research project.

  • Tell them what needs still remain. Volunteers are likely unaware of why you need more funds. This is where you should be explicit and explain how money will cover those needs.

The more data we collect, the more we learn about lupus to find a cure and make management more accessible to survivors. As the numbers of lupus patients grow in both women and men, we find ourselves needing more equipment to process samples faster and more accurately. Our fundraising goal of $150,000 will help cover the cost for a light-sensing device that gives us more information about lupus flares.

  • Explain why both donating and volunteering are helpful. Remember, you’re converting volunteers into volunteers who donate. You want to avoid sending the message that they should choose between being a volunteer or giving a donation.

Volunteers like you are our most influential advocates for lupus research as you saw at the baseball tournament. It’s because you give your time that we’re able to spread the message and reach others willing to donate to the cause. We are still about $50,000 away from reaching our goal and we need your help to turn 3rd base and head to home plate.

Inquire About Employer Charitable Matching

There are many companies who want to support the passions their employees have. One of the ways they do this is by giving donations to nonprofit organizations of the employee’s choice. Sometimes the employer will match up to a specific amount that your volunteer is giving.

Chances are, your volunteers are unaware that this is even a thing! You may want to include some language in your message that’ll prompt them to ask their employer about the types of philanthropic programs they have available. This could easily double their contribution potential.

Not Just a Volunteer

Volunteers are an important resource for nonprofits. They give their irreplaceable time to your cause which makes a great impact on the work you’re able to do. With the proper nurturing and approach, you’ll be able to turn volunteers into donors.

About the Author:
Geng Wang
As CEO of Civic Champs, I lead our team of passionate change leaders to create technology solutions to create a seamless and rewarding volunteering experience for both volunteers and service organizations.