Picture this: your nonprofit is gearing up to run a capital campaign to construct a new building. This campaign will require a lot of funding, and you’ll need all hands on deck to steward strong donor relationships and solicit donations. While your staff and board members are up for the job, you quickly realize that you’ll need additional help to push your goals forward. This is where corporate volunteers can help.
While all volunteers can make a difference in your fundraising plan, corporate volunteers can make an especially large impact because of their professional backgrounds. Specifically, they can leverage their unique skill sets and passion to support your cause in a variety of meaningful ways—from building a fundraising microsite from scratch to organizing your financial records.
Whether you’re getting ready to lead a large-scale campaign or simply need additional fundraising support year-round, corporate volunteers can help. In this guide, we’ll cover three ways corporate volunteers can play a significant role in your fundraising strategy:
By tapping corporate volunteers to support your fundraising plan, you’ll save your nonprofit’s team plenty of time and resources that can go towards advancing your mission. Let’s begin.
Idea #1: Steward relationships with donors
Nurturing strong donor relationships is an essential part of keeping your supporters engaged and eager to give back to your cause. However, creating regular touchpoints with hundreds to thousands of supporters can feel overwhelming and quickly exhaust your team. To help move supporters up the donor pyramid to larger and more frequent gifts, harness the power of your corporate volunteers.
Your corporate volunteers can help you carry out a variety of outreach and communication strategies across multiple channels to retain donors, including:
- Writing handwritten thank-you letters: Aly Sterling Philanthropy’s guide to donor stewardship recommends sending thank-you letters within one business week after donors give. While not all of your donor gifts will qualify for a handwritten thank-you note, it’s important that you have volunteers ready to create personalized letters for donors who do. For instance, you might send automatic emails to all of your supporters who give, but reserve handwritten notes for donors who give over $100. In your thank-you notes, your volunteers should address donors by their first name, reference how much they gave and explain the impact this donation will have on your mission.
- Making phone calls: Phone calls are another key donor stewardship tool that can help supporters feel appreciated by your organization. Enlist your corporate volunteers to call donors who meet a certain giving threshold within two weeks after they give and express heartfelt gratitude. While you should provide your volunteers with a donor-centric script, it’s also important to include opportunities to make the call personalized to the recipient, such as adding the line “Thank you [donor’s name] for your generous gift of [gift amount] to our cause.”
- Meeting with donors one-on-one: One-on-one meetings with volunteers give your donors a chance to learn more about the people working behind the scenes to bring your mission to life. During these meetings, your corporate volunteers can discuss their day-to-day responsibilities in advancing your cause and how they’re making good use of donors’ dollars.
Keep in mind that some of these stewardship strategies should be executed by your board or executive director for your major donors. However, the majority of your donors’ gifts will fall under lower thresholds, making this a perfect opportunity for your volunteers to get involved and help develop strong relationships with your supporters.
Idea #2: Solicit donors for gifts
Once your organization is in a good spot with donors, it’s time to ask them to give again. Your corporate volunteers can help solicit donors for gift amounts that make sense based on their past giving history and willingness to give. To set your volunteers up for success when soliciting gifts, it’s important to provide them with as much direction as possible.
Share the following resources and guidance with your volunteers:
- A step-by-step guide: Outline the solicitation procedure so your ask remains uniform across all donor conversations. This way, you’ll ensure that volunteers’ solicitations align with your nonprofit’s values and their conversations maintain best practices. If you’re leading a capital campaign and will be leveraging volunteer support to help solicit donations, create a separate guide for your quiet and public phases.
- Donor FAQs: Anticipate the questions that donors will ask about your fundraising efforts or campaign in advance and provide sample answers that volunteers can provide. You’ll want to have all the basics covered, including the purpose behind your fundraiser, how donors’ contributions will be used, and how you arrived at your fundraising goal.
- Email and direct mail templates: Provide your volunteers with outreach templates so their donor communications align with your branding and contain the correct information about your fundraiser, including deadlines, the core purpose of your campaign and more. This will also help your volunteers send out communications quickly and with as little work as possible.
- Your case for support: If you’re leading a large-scale campaign, like a capital campaign, you’ll need to share your case for support with your volunteers so they’re familiar with the ins and outs of your fundraiser. Your case for support will be the guiding force behind their conversations and solicitations, so consider leading a meeting to go over its main points. You can also ask loyal corporate volunteers for their input on your case for support after your feasibility study concludes.
Your corporate volunteers might run into questions about your fundraising campaign or how to best approach a solicitation with a unique donor. Make sure your staff is available to answer their questions and direct them to best practices. This will help volunteers approach their roles more confidently and feel a greater sense of community within your organization.
Idea #3: Receive volunteer grants
Another key way corporate volunteers can further your fundraising efforts is through volunteer grants. Getting Attention explains that volunteer grants, also known as dollars for doers programs, are a type of corporate giving in which companies donate a certain amount of money based on the number of hours their employees spend volunteering at a nonprofit.
Volunteer grants make corporate volunteers even more valuable to your organization, empowering your nonprofit to receive both non-monetary and monetary support. To start benefiting from volunteer grants, ask your existing corporate volunteers to check their eligibility with their employer. This can be done by:
- Referring back to their employee handbook and viewing their benefits
- Asking their managers or leadership at your company directly
- Using a volunteer grant database on your website to type in their employer’s name and look up their eligibility
If you host group volunteering sessions with a company on a regular basis, inquire with your corporate partner about expanding this partnership to include volunteer grants. This will help the company play a more rewarding role in your nonprofit’s mission, ultimately allowing them to boost their social impact and benefit from a philanthropic reputation.
Your corporate volunteers are an invaluable asset when it comes to strengthening your fundraising strategy. From helping to steward donors to providing monetary support through grants, there are plenty of ways corporate volunteers can step into the fundraising action without having to give themselves.
As your volunteers transition into their new fundraising roles and responsibilities, make sure to regularly express volunteer appreciation so you can retain their support over the long run. For instance, you might write handwritten letters that reference their impact or host an appreciation dinner every quarter. This can go a long way in helping your volunteers feel recognized and truly a part of your organization’s community, allowing you to build lifelong partnerships.