Many of our clients across the country are preparing for the start of their annual or year-end giving campaigns. Among one of the most important “to-do’s” is to get the right campaign volunteers in place before a single dollar is raised.

Most non-profit campaign teams are made up of a few staff and a large number of volunteers. These volunteers are well positioned – and ideally well connected enough – to communicate the organization’s mission, share its impacts and engage others to support the cause. Without a team of committed and educated volunteers, the small number of (likely already overworked) staff are left with all the campaign responsibilities, which is too often a recipe for failure.

As you prepare to recruit your volunteers, keep a few things in mind:

  • Be clear and specific about your expectations. Provide volunteers with a written job description, timeline and goals. A clear vision demonstrates you have a respect for their time and allows them to know what they are saying “yes” to.
  • Emphasize the importance of their role in the campaign and the campaign’s to the organization. Everyone wants to feel valued and useful. Knowing their critical role can help to excite, motivate and encourage prospective volunteers to join your cause.
  • Make it personal. Make sure you are connecting one-on-one with the volunteer and letting them know why you need them and their unique talents. Perhaps it is their infectious enthusiasm or their ability to connect people to a mission. Let them know how they will be a unique asset to the campaign.
  • Share your vision and plan. People want to join a winning and successful team. By sharing your vision and roadmap for the campaign, and ultimately how it will make an impact, you are showing potential volunteers they are part of something bigger and that there is a plan for success.
  • Let them know they are not alone. Assure volunteers there is a team of staff and other campaigners with them every step of the way. Make sure you have a training and communications plan in place so your volunteers feel supported, coached and informed throughout the campaign.
  • Staff can recruit, too. Recruiting campaign volunteers is not just the Development Officer’s or CEO’s job. Challenge your staff to recruit the volunteers they have relationships with and have them work alongside the volunteers to train and support them!

You’ve got your short list of who you know you want “on the bus” (thanks, Jim Collins). Now get out there and ask!

Posted by Peggy Vinson
Peggy Vinson

Written by Peggy Vinson

Since joining DBD in 2005, Peggy has coached executive staff and volunteers on increasing the effectiveness of their fundraising efforts. Peggy’s prescriptive approach focuses on the organization’s strengths and challenges. She meets her clients where they are, helping all to grow their fundraising skills. By developing strategic, measurable plans and skill sets, Peggy helps organizations not only meet their goals this year, but increase their capacity for the future.

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