Heidi Webb of GreenKite Fundraising, host of our recent webinar on turning your volunteers into donors, is back to answer your burning questions that weren’t addressed in the session. You can watch the webinar in full here.
What are the best ways to thank volunteers for their service?
GreenKite: Volunteers are donors, so you want to thank them as lovingly and often as you do anyone who makes a contribution! Here are some non-traditional, fun, and meaningful ways to thank volunteers:
- Nominate them for an award, like the President’s Volunteer Service Award or the Show Your Love AARP Award.
- Give them a special parking space for a month.
- Recognize them on your website.
- Offer to be a personal reference for young and/or job-seeking volunteers.
- Take a full staff photo with staff holding a “thank you” sign, and have the staff sign the photo,, before presenting it to the volunteer.
- Send them a thank you video from the Executive Director or a client.
What should we be doing now with volunteers in this hybrid virtual/in person space?
GreenKite: The most important thing to do is to keep your volunteers connected — with you and with each other. Host bi-monthly check-ins and leave room at the top end of each call for socializing or checking in with one another. There are plenty of assignments you can give volunteers — from writing LinkedIn articles and Blogs to securing silent auction items or reaching out to donors. If they have the opportunity to come in-person to your location, make sure healthy social distancing is in place so that everyone feels comfortable. If your nonprofit distributes school supplies, toiletry kits or the like, allow volunteers to pick up supply boxes, put together the kits and then bring the full packages back to you for distribution (this works well in the case of large appeal or newsletter mailings, too). Also, this is the perfect time to get volunteers on board with fundraising. And researching prospects is important, too!
We’re working on building up our monthly giving program. Would volunteers be a good group to target for this, even if they haven’t made a financial gift before?
GreenKite: As long as you have already been good at communicating with your volunteers and thanking them, they will make excellent monthly donors! I offer two suggestions:
1) Tell them (the ones you want to ask to become monthly donors) that you are about to launch a monthly donor campaign. Ask for their advice (and take some, if not all of it!), and then ask them to review your materials. Ask them who they should invite to participate and ask if they would consider being a monthly supporter too!
2) Just ask. Make sure you focus on a personalized ask and that your communication with them is emotional and elicits a response.
If you’re having volunteers or other donors join you on the asks, what role do they take?
GreenKite: A volunteer mission ambassador can do everything from researching the donor you are about to meet with to uncover any new and relevant information that can enhance your conversation joining you in the meeting to provide a boots-on-the-ground perspective of your mission and impact. Eventually, a volunteer can take the lead during the donor meeting and actually make “the ask,” with your role being more of a support to the volunteer. If your mission touts, “we use mostly volunteers,” or “we love our volunteers,” then bringing a volunteer to a donor meeting is truly walking the walk and speaks volumes about the integrity of your marketing around the importance of your volunteers.
Additionally, here is where you can find Heidi’s GKF Dollars for Doers Poster.