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The Benefits of Engaging Volunteers

Lori Halley 21 November 2012 0 comments

We’re talking about engagement this month. And while most of our posts have focused on member engagement, volunteer engagement is also critical for both membership organizations and non-profits.

Why focus on engaging volunteers?  They donate their time AND money!

Joanne Fritz recently blogged about the fact that Wealthy Donors Give More When They Volunteer.  Joanne quotes a recently released Bank of America survey of the wealthiest donors that found that “89% of affluent donors volunteered in 2011, which was an increase of 10 points from 2009.” 

In the post, Joanne suggests:

We know that volunteering in general is positively correlated with charitable giving. In this study, people who volunteered for more than 100 hours gave, on average, $78,000 to charity. For those who spent fewer hours volunteering, the average came to less than $39,000. On the other hand, donors in this study who did not volunteer at all gave an average of $49,742 to their charities.
The message for nonprofits? Don't hesitate to involve high net worth donors. Get them moving and donations are likely to be higher. That may be because volunteers gain first hand knowledge of the good that a charity actually does.

With an effective engagement strategy, skilled donors offer non-profits huge benefits

In a recent Movie Monday video - 3 Stages of Engaging Skilled Volunteers - Nancy Long, Executive Director at 501 Commons, explains “why you should look for skilled volunteers,” and outlines “the three stages of engaging skilled volunteers.”

Long notes that developing a long-term relationship with a skilled volunteer is like “finding a life partner.” It takes some effort to find the person with the right fit, but the rewards can be immense, especially since this type of volunteer “is twice as likely to give.” And the benefits you reap - both through their volunteer efforts and their donations - grow over time.

But Long advises that engaging skilled volunteers takes place in three stages:

  1. Through an initial discussion to determine if the volunteer is a good fit for your organization and whether their involvement will be mutually beneficial.
  2. The engagement stage - where you develop and communicate clear expectations for what the volunteer is expected to achieve, as well as what resources they’ll receive and what feedback.
  3. The final stage is the stewardship. This, Long suggests, is much like donor stewardship, where you continue to build the relationship and enable the volunteer to move up the ladder in terms of volunteer roles and hopefully, increased donations as well.

“Giving where engaged”

Creating effective strategies to engage your volunteers can be a truly win-win situation. As the 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found, “[i]ncreasingly, high net worth individuals are giving their contributions to organizations where they both volunteer and believe their gift will have the largest impact,” and “...the more high net worth individuals volunteered, the more they gave."

How do you engage your skilled volunteers? Share your insight in the comments below.

Image source:  Volunteer Group raising hands - from BigStockPhoto.com

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 8:30 AM
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