Volunteers – Another Tool in Your Toolbox

Introduction to Philanthropic Partners’ Intern

SinellaMy name is Sinella Aghasi Moshabad. I am currently a Doctor of Musical Arts student with a concentration in Violin Performance and a minor in Arts Administration at LSU. I am excited to be interning with Philanthropic Partners this winter/spring. I have been involved with non-profit organizations in different capacities for several years, and as I have recently started my journey to do this professionally, I will be sharing some tips about how to strengthen your organizations.

Volunteers are one of the main assets of every non-profit organization. They have a strong affinity for the organization, but many organizations do not use the full potential of their volunteers.

To get the most out of your volunteers, you need to first educate them. Although they have an overall picture of what your organization does, it is important to clarify the organization’s goals, values, and vision. As they could be the organization’s most effective way of building awareness, you’ll want to be sure they have the knowledge and messaging to represent your organization. .

Then it is essential to activate your volunteers in the community. Encourage your volunteers to represent the organization in their unique communities. Many of them will be happy to promote your programs and events. You may even start a more formal social media ambassador program to leverage those with large online networks. If you encounter volunteers who would be afraid of public speaking, you can ask them to distribute promotional materials.

Volunteers are full of knowledge to help with donor research and solicitation. Your board or fund development committee can provide you informal information about prospects. This information can range from family relationships to the health of a prospect’s business to philanthropic interests. Capacity of prospects can also often be answered by your volunteers. Peers know how much wealth each have. It is important to be prepared and ask for the right (personalized) amount from each donor. Asking for a very large donation could leave you with nothing, and asking for a very small donation could leave money on the table. Good research will help you with the best targeted ask for each prospect.

Remember, people love to be asked to help, so you just need to identify each volunteer’s strength, assign appropriate tasks to them, and help them thrive as ambassadors for your organization. By giving your volunteers an opportunity to be an active part of your mission, you are increasing their affinity and hopefully their future financial commitment to the organization.

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Sarah Cortell Vandersypen

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