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Electrifying Results: Fundraising Insights to Move the Needle for Your Nonprofit

Volunteers – A Case of Mistaken Identity

I’ve witnessed a lot of nonprofit organizations who treat their volunteers as they would a first crush when it comes to asking for money. They are timid, shy and afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

Volunteers - A Case of Mistaken Identity

Photo by Lee Coursey.

In the end, many nonprofits don’t get around to personally asking their volunteers for a gift. Others send a direct mail letter like they would send to the rest of their donors. I equate that to passing notes that read, “Do you like me? Check yes or no.”

I believe volunteers often suffer from a case of mistaken identity when it comes to giving. As close to their organizations as volunteers are, they are often viewed as organizational outsiders instead of insiders. In reality, your volunteers are part of your inner circle. They are part of your inner family and as such, they should be treated like family. Whether they assist with office tasks, serve on a marketing committee or work directly with those you serve, your volunteers should be shown your appreciation for the time they give. They deserve to be personally invited to support your efforts financially.

As a volunteer, they likely understand your financial limitations and needs much better than others who give to your organization. They also understand that volunteerism only gets you so far and dollars will always be needed to fulfill your mission. Volunteers are in a better position to understand how their resources can help as they’ve seen those resources in action.

The next time you are contemplating asking your volunteers for a gift or planning a volunteer appeal, make it personal. Remember, volunteers are insiders, not outsiders, so treat them as such.

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