How can your Volunteers help you in raising funds?

Dr Saumya Arora About Dr Saumya Arora

Dr. Saumya Arora is a development professional with cross-disciplinary experience in project management, resource mobilization, donor relationship management, community mobilization and project execution at the field level. She is currently working towards building fundraising and resource mobilization capacity of community-based organizations, apart from developing functional linkages with donors across the world.

As a non-profit organization, you might have come across many passionate individuals, ardent supporters and advocates for your cause, who have supported or continue to support your organization. These people devote their time, knowledge and passion for your cause as ‘volunteers’. Volunteers have been instrumental in achieving many organizational goals, by helping an organization do good for the underprivileged communities. You might have involved volunteers for various purposes, like documentation, end-user services, administrative or office work, field level trainings, etc. Have you also thought of taking the help of volunteers in raising funds? If yes, your experiences must have given you an idea about volunteer fundraising, and this article can resound with that. If not, here are some ways in which volunteers can help you in raising funds for your organization:

1. Bringing in passion and enthusiasm:
Volunteers are passionate people who are contributing their time towards a cause. This makes them special. They like to associate with your organization because of their passion, now it is up to you how you channel and tap their energies. They usually bring a lot of new ideas to the table. Make sure you are able to put these to use. You might have a fundraising map or plan with you, make sure you share it with your volunteers for their suggestions. Their involvement in planning with yield positive results for your fundraising targets, as long as you plan it systematically.

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2. Spreading the word:
Being associated with a cause makes them happy. And most volunteers are happier in spreading the word about the cause they are associated with. Your volunteers can be instrumental in spreading the word about your organization and its work. This can really work well if you have a campaign or any specific fundraising events or activities. You can ask your volunteers to go out, make noise about your campaign. Making noise here means reaching out to more and more people, giving them relevant information about the campaign or event. This will have a greater impact, as here a larger unaddressed group can also be reached out to.

3. Multiplying donor network:
This is a much hidden and lesser explored aspect of volunteer fundraising. You might already have a donor network, containing a number of donors who have contributed to your organization in past, and some may also be continuing their support. Some of these donors would have been one-time contributors, while some would have been recurrent donors and ardent supporters. Despite having a donor network, it might be the case that you are looking for donors for your cause or campaign (or event). Your volunteers might be the answer. Consider this, you know 100 donors, out of which 60-70 people would donate to your campaign. Considering your target, this seems to be a shortfall. Now, how many volunteers you have with your organization? 10, 20 or more? Each one of these will have his/ her own network. They may even reach out to people outside their network. Taking a conservative number, 10 volunteers reaching out to at least 10 people in their known network, makes it 100 more people. Now get the idea? If your volunteers believe in you, they will be happy to get hands-on fundraising experience and engage a huge network also.

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4. Breaking the ice:
If you have a strong communications team, you might not face this problem. But for smaller NGOs and with different organizational structures, this might be the case. . There may be many stakeholders within your reach, but due to your engagement in core activities and day-to-day functions, you might not be able to reach out to them on a regular basis. Your volunteers may help you in breaking the ice and opening up the cycle of communication about your organization. Orient them and train them about donor communication, and half of your work is done. Please read further how volunteers can do this.

5. Finding out platforms:
Volunteers can bring creative and innovative ideas to communicate impact, success stories and use as a fundraising pitch. They can even look out for platforms for projecting these. This may be because these volunteers come from diverse professional spheres. They might be students, corporate employees, teachers, or any one. They may represent your cause in their respective spheres and networks. One example may be, students putting up a stall for creating awareness about a cause or campaign, in their college/ university.

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6. Walking the talk:
Volunteers become loyal donors also. In line with the principle of preach what you practice, good volunteers extend their support to your organization in multiple ways, including donations to the cause they support. This is because they know and understand what you do, they see and do the good work, and they want your mission to become successful. Though becoming a donor is not a prerequisite to volunteer, this is an observation about passionate volunteers that you need to explore.

7. Contributing in other activities as required:
Your volunteers are good at multi-tasking, and they possess a lot of skills too. These skills can be beneficial if put to use. For example, if an accounts person is among your volunteers, you can always take his/ her advice about your accounting processes, even guidance and training to your staff. So, it depends on you to realize the hidden potential and talent your volunteers have, and how they can contribute towards your goals with their skills and knowledge.

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