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4 techniques for turning volunteers into donors

June 06, 2024
A group of volunteer embrace after a successful event.

Volunteers are essential to many nonprofits’ long-term success — and not just in terms of monetary generosity. Double the Donation has shared that in a survey of nonprofit supporters, 76% of respondents said they donated to the nonprofits they volunteer with, and 68% volunteered with the organizations they donated to. It’s clear: volunteers are likely to offer support in multiple ways for a deeper level of involvement. The experience you give them can encourage them to expand their support.

Whether your organization already has a thriving volunteer program or is focused on growing one, it’s important to lay the groundwork now to convert volunteer energy today into financial support later. Let’s walk through four effective techniques for turning volunteers into donors.

1. Optimize volunteer recruitment and registration.

A positive experience at the beginning of the volunteer journey sets the tone for future interactions. Build a strong foundation by providing all of the details supporters need to choose to participate, including:

  • The event’s location and runtime
  • Tasks and responsibilities
  • Accessibility information
  • Volunteer incentives
  • Expected outcomes and the impact they’ll help create

Pro tip: If you’re looking for new volunteers to join your program, Bonterra’s Volunteer Management solution facilitates the acquisition process by allowing nonprofits to tap into a network of over five million supporters eager for opportunities to contribute. Recruitment through this public network has been proven to lead to a 30% reduction in no-shows!

Once you’ve caught the interest of potential volunteers, streamline your registration process so signing up only takes a few clicks. Set up automated email and text messages to thank each volunteer for registering and remind them as the event draws near. Finally, extend your recruitment reach even further by making it easy for them to share your event with their personal networks.

2. Prioritize volunteer appreciation closer to year-end.

Cultivation is crucial for successfully turning your nonprofits’ volunteers into donors. Demonstrate your appreciation for their time and effort before asking them to deepen their engagement by donating.

To prepare for a successful donation pitch at year-end, first acknowledge your supporters’ contributions to your organization’s success. During and after each event, thank volunteers for their support and get permission to publicly spotlight key individuals in your nonprofit’s social media posts or newsletters. As the end of the year approaches, you can show additional appreciation by:

  • Hosting a party or virtual celebration for volunteers.
  • Sending handwritten thank-you notes.
  • Arranging one-on-one coffee meetings.

Pro tip: Bonterra offers comprehensive tools that enable your organization to easily manage volunteer shifts, send event reminders, track attendance, and follow up with supporters.

3. Personalize your donation requests to turn volunteers into donors.

Once you’re ready to make the ask, make each volunteer feel valued by personalizing each donation request. You can do this in three steps:

Start with a personalized thank-you.

Use your nonprofit’s tracked volunteer data to customize messages according to each supporter’s past contributions. This allows you to acknowledge and appreciate how much time and effort they’ve already invested in your organization. Begin your message with a personalized greeting like:

Hi Jane!
First of all, thank you so much for being such an amazing volunteer. With your help, we’ve been able to complete over 4,980 calls to at-risk seniors across the state to ensure that they have timely access to essential services.

Communicate specific needs.

While your volunteers may be familiar with your organization’s mission and work, help them better understand your funding needs by offering relevant details like your budget and fundraising goals. Try adding specific data to your message, such as:

Five years ago, our organization delivered 110 million meals to 1.7 million seniors. However, since then we’ve seen more and more seniors face food insecurity every year.

Ensuring that no senior in our community goes hungry requires emergency funds, so we’re raising $100,000 by December 31st to deliver an additional 12,000 meals.

Demonstrate the impact of donations and volunteer hours.

Your nonprofit’s volunteers are already dedicated to furthering your organization’s mission, so explain why their financial support is needed alongside their current efforts. End your message with a call-to-action:

As a volunteer, you’re one of our most powerful advocates for ending senior hunger, and you’ve seen first-hand the impact we’ve had on our community. In one week, our organization is participating in a global day of giving to continue to fund our meal-delivery program. We’re $10,000 away from reaching our goal, and we need your help to ensure that we can continue providing this vital service.

4. Turn your volunteers into fundraisers.

Each volunteer has a personal network of friends, family, and acquaintances who often share similar beliefs and values. Empower your volunteers with the right tools to fundraise on your nonprofit’s behalf. Peer-to-peer fundraisers are valuable opportunities to raise more money, engage your volunteers more deeply, and bring in new support for your organization.

Pro tip: Make it easy for supporters to invite their networks to sign up for a shift. Bonterra enables volunteers to efficiently connect with their own friends and fellow supporters. More than 20% of supporters who have taken action through our supporter engagement solutions have come from a bring-a-friend feature, and almost 40% of supporters have taken action with the same people multiple times.

Building strong supporter relationships.

By providing supporters with a rewarding and seamless volunteer experience, showing appreciation, and offering easy opportunities to donate, you can channel their existing commitment toward your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising efforts.

Creating a seamless experience that helps volunteers become donors shouldn’t require hours of manual work from your busy team. Investing in a solution that allows you to review every action a supporter has taken with your organization lets you segment communications based on volunteer and donation history. This will help you connect with each supporter in an authentic way, and ultimately improve your fundraising outcomes at year-end and beyond. Talk to us to learn more.

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