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19. Fundraising -Your Team


Fundraising is about teamwork. For any non-profit organization, people are often the most valuable resource. If you want to fundraise, then you will need to build a team of volunteers, workers, and other personnel who will help you achieve your goals.  In general, for a non-profit, you will want most of your staff to be volunteers, although you may need to hire some staff as well.  Depending on the amount of work involved in your fundraising idea, you may need to recruit extra volunteers or group members just to volunteer.

Who Volunteers?

Volunteers come from all age groups and all walks of life.  In fact, in North America alone, volunteers annually contribute many billions of dollars of billable hours - for no money. People choose to offer work time at no cost  for many reasons :

  • because they support a cause
  • to make a difference or contribute to a community
  • to right a wrong or a lack they see in society
  • to gain work experience
  • to interact with other people and meet others
  • to do something they feel is important

Approaching Volunteers

There are many places you can find volunteers for your fundraising event.  You can advertise for them in the newspaper or through word of mouth.  You can also advertise for volunteers at schools (college and high school students are often eager to volunteer in order to gain valuable work experience and community service hours). Many cities also have volunteer bureaus that match up volunteers with volunteer opportunities.  This can be a great way for you to find people to help you with your fundraising project.

Once you have a few people interested in volunteering, you will want to speak with them about what they can expect from volunteering for your non-profit group.  You should mention your fundraising plans and note how you hope volunteers will be able to help you.  Then you should sit back and listen to what your potential volunteers think.  Volunteers should be able to follow through and should be enthusiastic about your group.  Be sure to mention any benefits that your group can offer volunteers (a friendly work environment, for example, or a reference letter).

Training Volunteers

Once you have some volunteers willing to help you with your fundraising, you will need to explain to them what you expect from your group and your volunteers.  Some volunteers have little or no work experience while others are professionals or even leaders in their field.  In any case, you need to let them know how you want things to be done at your non-profit organization.

To train your volunteers, set aside some time to show your new recruits around the offices or workspace of your non-profit (if indeed you have such a space).  Tell them what the group does and how the group got started. Allow your group to ask questions and be sure to give them your fundraising plan so that they can see how they fit into your group's effort. Also, show them any specific tasks that need to be done (operating a cash register, for example, or writing out a tax receipt properly) in order for them to do their volunteer work well.

Leveraging, Motivating, and Outsourcing

Your volunteers are your responsibility, which means that you will be the one who has to work hard to ensure that they are motivated and doing the work they volunteered to do.  Often, volunteers who have a genuine desire to get job experience or volunteers who have a great interest in a specific cause are those who will work the hardest and will do what needs to be done. However, you can make all your volunteers more enthusiastic about helping your fundraising plan if you listen to what your volunteers want or need from their volunteer experience. 

Providing a pleasant work environment, at least occasionally interesting work for them, and even motivating them through prizes or praise can make your volunteers feel better about working for your non-profit organization.  Building a team atmosphere through occasional meetings can also help motivate your team.

You need to make sure that your volunteers have enough work to do so that they don't feel insignificant but not too much so that they are overwhelmed.  Generally, you should find out from each volunteer how much work feels right for them and then offer them that amount.  If you notice that some volunteers seem to like or be very adept at specific work, try to offer that sort of work to those volunteers.  Not only will things get done more effectively, but your volunteers will be happier.

If your volunteers are overworked, outsource some work to new volunteers.  If you are overworked, try asking to see whether any volunteers would be interested in taking on a larger workload. 

Dealing With Volunteers

Your volunteers are like your donors - they are people who offer their services to you but at no charge.  It is insensitive and often ineffective to treat them as employees.  You should be happy that there are people willing to help you for no financial reward.  You should also try to give your volunteers some value for their experience - either by offering them work experience or a truly friendly atmosphere or some other perk.  You should also periodically express your appreciation for your workers, much as you would express your appreciation for the money that donors give.

Remember: For many people, time is more valuable than even money.  Your volunteers are offering you a valuable resource by offering you their time.  Do not squander this gift or take it for granted.

If you have trouble with volunteers - either because volunteers do not seem to be doing their work or seem to be creating drama, be sure that you continue to work with your volunteers rather than taking on an employer or disciplinary role.  In many cases, conflict or idle time can be avoided by clearly telling volunteers what is to be done and by what time.  Ask for volunteers for specific tasks, assign those fundraising tasks, and then set a deadline on those tasks.  That way, each person will know what they are to do and by when.

Many conflicts among volunteers can also be avoided with a little planning. Try to match tasks with volunteer personalities.  Outgoing volunteers will often do well interacting with donors, while quieter volunteers may be more at ease dealing with email or letter correspondence or perhaps doing market research.  If you notice tensions among volunteers, offer to let those volunteers work apart until things settle down.  On a larger fundraising project, there is often more than enough room for every one!

Above all, keep lines of communication with your volunteers open.  A team attitude can go a long way.  If your workers feel comfortable and at ease talking to you, they will be happy to let you know things that will help you in organizing your work force most efficiently.

Next page: 20. Fundraising - Staying Organized

Practical Fundraising Ebook - Table Of Contents

  1. Fundraising - The Basics 
  2. Fundraising - Terminology
  3. Fundraising - Money
  4. Fundraising - Where to Find Donors and How to Reach Them
  5. Fundraising - Targeting Your Donors
  6. Fundraising - Research
  7. Fundraising - Your Donors' Needs
  8. Fundraising - Ideas
  9. Fundraising - Donated Products
  10. Fundraising - Bought Products
  11. Fundraising - Marathons
  12. Fundraising - Lotteries, raffles and more
  13. Fundraising - Fairs, Auctions and Bazaars
  14. Fundraising - Fun Events
  15. Fundraising - Drives
  16. Fundraising - Services
  17. Fundraising - Tips for Choosing a Fundraising Idea
  18. Fundraising - Your Plan
  19. Fundraising - Your Team
  20. Fundraising - Staying Organized
  21. Fundraising - Communicating With Your Donors
  22. Fundraising - Advertising
  23. Fundraising - Letters
  24. Fundraising - Emails and more
  25. Fundraising - Person to Person
  26. Fundraising - Thank You Notes
  27. Fundraising - Grant Proposals
  28. Fundraising - Press Releases
  29. Fundraising - With Computers
  30. Fundraising - Secrets to Success
  31. Fundraising - Problems
  32. Fundraising - Conclusions


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