The How-To’s For Asking Volunteers to Give

A hot-potato issue! (image by Greg W.)

A hot-potato issue!
(image by Greg W.)

Another hot potato issue! Almost every charity group I have worked with has been freaked out by the thought of asking volunteers to give.

Here’s the sassy back talk I usually hear:

  • They’re already giving the gift of time. This is a very common argument, used most often when talking about board members. The truth is that people are very invested in where they volunteer and likely have a strong understanding of the org’s need for financial support.
  • They’ll be offended. I think this all depends on how you ask and who the ask comes from. Find a volunteer who already donates and ask them why they do – there’s your case for a volunteer giving campaign.
  • They don’t have the money. I have heard this one many times and it’s a dangerous assumption to make. Better to assume your volunteers are generous (if not wealthy) and make sure to include them in ALL your charity’s campaigns and projects.

Here’s how to pull it off:

  1. Don’t worry about what will happen if you ask your volunteers for money – do some research first!
  2. Get a focus group of your volunteers together and show them some campaign ideas specific to areas that involve them. Let them know what you need and why. Ask them whether your case is appealing and if they’d give to it. Get their feedback on anything that might be turning them off.
  3. Take the feedback and plan a test group for your campaign – don’t send it to every volunteer at first. Figure out whether you’ll do paper mail, email, or both, and when you want to send it out.
  4. If you have tonnes of volunteers, consider an A/B test for the test group. Create two different campaign asks, send one to the first half and the second ask to the second half. Whichever ask does better then gets sent to the rest of the volunteers.
  5. Respond to any negative feedback right away. Be sure to let people know that your campaign was tested with a focus group of real volunteers. If a volunteer strongly disagrees with the campaign, thank them for their feedback and reassure them that their volunteer work is still the single most important gift you need.
  6. Don’t give up easily! Send reminders and follow up with non-donors again in a few weeks. It may take a couple of tries to build the culture of giving within your volunteer team, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Good luck!

Siobhan : )


About Siobhan Aspinall

About Siobhan Aspinall: I am a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), passionate about the environment, social causes and surfing. I have been fundraising in Vancouver, Canada for over 20 years and love working with people who have a fear of fundraising. Call me for help developing a first-time fundraising plan, starting up a major gifts program, writing a case for support, or anything else that's keeping you awake at night! Please find me on linkedin and tell me what you'd like to see in future posts! : ) Photo Credit (sanddollar header): Minette Layne via Compfight cc
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