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4 techniques for turning volunteers into donors at year-end

November 01, 2021
A group of volunteer embrace after a successful event.

Volunteers are essential to your nonprofit organization’s long-term success as they regularly contribute to your fundraising events, marketing efforts, and brand awareness. At the same time, 67% of worldwide donors are volunteers in their local communities, choosing to deepen their charitable involvement.

Whether your organization has a thriving volunteer program or is just beginning to explore this type of supporter engagement, it’s beneficial to lay the groundwork in advance to convert that volunteer energy into financial support later in the year. To help you maximize your efforts, we’ll walk through four effective techniques for turning volunteers into donors by the end of the year.

1. Optimize volunteer recruitment and registration.

A positive experience at the beginning of a volunteer’s journey with your organization sets the tone for all future interactions, so be sure to build a strong foundation for productive nonprofit-volunteer relationships early on.

When promoting a volunteer opportunity to your supporters, provide all of the necessary details to make it easy for them to choose to participate, including:

  • The event’s location and runtime
  • Tasks and responsibilities
  • Accessibility information
  • Volunteer incentives

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

Once you’ve caught the interest of potential volunteers, create a streamlined, convenient registration process so that signing up only takes a few clicks. Additionally, set up automated email and text messages to thank each volunteer for registering and remind them as the event draws near. Finally, make it easy for them to share your event with their personal networks on social media, extending your recruitment reach even further.

2. Prioritize volunteer appreciation closer to year-end.

Cultivation is crucial for successfully turning volunteers into donors for your nonprofit. As you interact with volunteers, demonstrate your appreciation for their time and effort before asking them to deepen their engagement with donations.

To prepare for a successful donation pitch at year-end, acknowledge your supporters for all of their critical contributions to your organization’s success. During and after each event, thank volunteers for their support and spotlight key individuals in your nonprofit’s social media posts. As the end of the year approaches, consider dedicating extra effort to volunteer appreciation by:

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

Pro tip: The Mobilize solution 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, focus on personalizing each donation request to make each volunteer feel valued. Follow these three steps to inspire volunteers to fund your organization’s purpose:

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. When asking a volunteer to consider donating, 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 4,983 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 purpose and work, help them better understand your funding needs by offering relevant details such as your budget and fundraising goals. For example, you might add specific data to your message, noting:

Before COVID-19, our organization had been delivering 110 million meals to 1.7 million seniors each year. However, in these past years we’ve seen more seniors face food insecurity than ever.

The costs and efforts to ensure that no senior in our community goes hungry require emergency funds, so we’re trying to raise $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 purpose, so all you need to do is explain why their financial support is needed alongside their current efforts. Conclude 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 life-saving service.

4. Turn your volunteers into fundraisers.

Each volunteer has an extensive 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 increase revenue, further engage your volunteers, and bring in new support for your organization.

Pro tip: Make it easy for supporters to invite their networks to volunteer. The Mobilize solution enables volunteers to efficiently connect with their own friends and fellow supporters. More than 20% of supporters who have taken action through Mobilize 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.

Remember to invest in a solution that allows you to review every action a supporter has taken with your organization and segment communications based on volunteer and donation history. This will help you provide personalized supporter experiences that optimize fundraising outcomes at year-end and beyond.

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