fundraising with volunteersUtilizing Fundraising Volunteers During Coronavirus 

If your nonprofit is like the many I follow on social media, you may have had to rethink your fundraising campaigns for the foreseeable future. That means relying on your network of followers, and perhaps even volunteer fundraisers, to help you spread the word about your organization. It may also mean you need to start creating compelling content to “sell” your organization’s story, and encourage your followers to share.

With a potential gap in funding, your organization’s long-term sustainability is up in the air, and you are facing dire budget restraints that could lead to program cuts, staff lay-offs, and fewer clients served. 

That’s not good for anyone.  

There is some good news, though! 

You likely already have the support network in place to help your organization bridge the funding gap: your volunteers! 

Read on for tips on how you can leverage some of your biggest fans in two ways to help guide you during this uncertain time.  

How to Work with Fundraising Volunteers

As someone who has worked in fundraising, I know how scary that term can be to someone who isn’t fully aware of what it entails. I also know that nonprofit development staff couldn’t accomplish half of what they do without the help of volunteers.  

Think about all of the people it takes to pull off an annual fundraiser: you have your mass mailing, reminder phone calls, event committees, and day of event support, just to name a few. Likely all tasks that are completed alongside a team of volunteers.  

Those volunteers are one of the keys to your nonprofit making it through the pandemic without losing too much of your fundraising revenue.  

Volunteers are a critical and underused resource for your organization, and it’s time to tap into their power!  

the power of volunteer fundraisers

Now, this doesn’t mean you want to call up your volunteers and ask them to start hounding their family, friends, and neighbors for money. We all know that’s not what effective fundraising looks like anyway! And, it will only serve to scare away your volunteers and turn them off to your organization.  

Instead, you want to consider collaborating with your development and marcoms team to start a peer-to-peer fundraiser 

How to Pull Off a Volunteer-Driven Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser 

Volunteers are an untapped resource when it comes to raising funds for your organization; however, there are plenty of reasons why you need to consider turning your volunteers into successful peer-to-peer fundraisers:  

  • Volunteers are passionate about your cause 
  • They are well versed on what your cause seeks to solve in the community 
  • Fundraising has a clear impact on your organization’s cause, so they are likely to view the work as meaningful, and  
  • They are likely to lead by example by kicking off the donations and encouraging their peers to donate or start their own fundraiser!  

If your volunteers aren’t able to volunteer on-site, but they are itching to support you in any way, now is the perfect time to ask them to run a peer-to-peer fundraiser.  

The 5-Steps to Successful Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers 

Classy has a great article on how you can turn volunteers into peer-to-peer fundraisersso, I won’t go into it too much, but below is a summary. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you will need to flex your creative muscles to make some of these work!  

1) Make it easy. Most donor CRM’s have peer-to-peer fundraising functionality. If it doesn’t look into some platforms to host your main donation page that will allow your fundraisers to create their own fundraising page with your organization’s branding.  

2) Share testimonials from previous peer-to-peer fundraisers or clients. If you have held peer-to-peer fundraisers before, ask participants to share their thoughts on why it was meaningful to them. If not, show how your donation dollars impact the mission with a client testimonial.  

3) Give a tour. You will need to consider how to host a tour now with stay-at-home orders in place and most public gatherings being banned, but a virtual tour is totally doable and will connect your volunteers from their support of your mission to the support of your mission that donor dollars would bring in.  

4) Pair it with events. Again, this will look a bit different due to current circumstances; however, it is something to consider, particularly with large fundraising events being postponed or canceled altogether. Your volunteers likely already supported your events by donating or attending, why not take it to the next level?

5) Segment your volunteer list. If you appeal to the programs and services your volunteers are passionate about within your organization, they are more likely to respond to your request for peer-to-peer fundraisers. Create a campaign for each of your organization’s initiatives and ask those volunteers to raise funds for that same initiative.  

Volunteer Driven Social Media Campaigns  

social media campaigns for volunteer fundraisers

Regardless of your personal feelings about social media, there is no denying that it is a powerful tool that can help you raise awareness, and funds, for your nonprofit.  

The sheer amount of people utilizing social media daily should mean that the odds of your organization getting attention are good; however, without a captive audience, your message will likely go unread.  

This is where your volunteers come in.  

To effectively raise funds on social media, you first must determine your campaign goals. What are you raising money for, how much do you need, and how can people participate? Then, follow the steps below to learn how you can work with your marcoms team to empower volunteers to engage in social media fundraising activities.  

Step 1: Clarify Your Campaign Plan and its Goals  

Work with development and marcoms team to determine the action plan for your campaign. Here are some important components you need to solidify before going live with your campaign:  

  • Determine how long you will run the campaign for 
  • Create a content plan and schedule  
  • Build a campaign landing page  
  • Create a project plan with responsibilities and deadlines mapped out 

There are a lot of moving parts to social media campaigns, and without a clear goal and project plan in place, you are bound to flop before getting off the ground. 

Step 2: Include a Call to Action  

Don’t just ask for money! Think about some of the viral fundraisers of our time like the Ice Bucket Challenge, to name one.  

No, you don’t need to reach the same level of recognition as ALS did with this challenge to have success, but you do need to have a clear call to action that compels people to act. When your volunteers are compelled to act, they are more likely to share your campaign with their network, which in turn results in more awareness and more donations.  

Step 3: Encourage Volunteer Involvement  

Organizations that do this well have figured out how to involve volunteers in social media from the start. Consider starting a social media ambassador program at your nonprofit and you will have people who are already engaging with your content regularly, at the ready to jump in, and help you spread the word about your fundraising campaigns.  

If you aren’t ready to take it that far yet, simply send out an appeal asking your volunteers if they would be willing to start a Facebook fundraiser for your organization. Map out a clear path to get them started quickly and easily and start watching the donations roll in. Make sure you ask your marcoms team to acknowledge every fundraiser and donation with a simple “thank you” post.  

Step 4: Celebrate Your Success!  

When your campaign is closed, make sure you celebrate with your followers! Let them know the final amount raised, what it will be used for, and how it’s going to impact the clients you serve. It would be great to have videos from your leadership team, volunteers, staff, and clients, all thanking supporters for their donations.  

We Want to Hear from You!  

Have you tried engaging volunteers in any of these fundraising activities yet? Were they successful, or did they flop? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!