The largest source of charitable giving in 2019 came from individuals,1 who contributed a total of $309.66 billion, an increase of 4.7% over 2018. Research shows us that 69% of donors are also volunteers, and nearly twice the number of people who volunteer2 (80%) donate to charity as people who don’t.3
People will invest their money where they engage their hearts. In fact, nearly 75% of those who volunteered indicated they are more likely to donate4 – a fact which especially holds true for millennial volunteers (52%). And where people give their time and money, they also share their voice. Your volunteers can also be your advocates, vision-casters, and supporters.
So how do we invest in our volunteers in such a way that they will choose to share the financial burden of the organization with us? How do we convert volunteers into donors?
Share Your Mission with Your Volunteers
85% of volunteers say that an organization’s mission is the most important factor for them in deciding whether or not they will give to that organization.5 When an organization’s mission resonates with an individual’s heart, that person will be more likely to donate because our brains are hardwired for emotional decision-making.6
You can never share your mission too frequently. Cast vision every chance you get, and through as many channels as you can. And teach your team how to share the mission and vision with others. After all, isn’t that at the heart of why your organization was started in the first place?
Write Volunteers Into Your Story
Stories are powerful. They frame a context, evoke emotions, and inspire us to act. According to neuroscientists, stories can help transfer experiences directly to another person’s brain and evoke empathy.7
Highlight your volunteers. Share photos and stories from events. Post quotes and features about your volunteers. By doing so, you weave them into your bigger story and make them feel like part of your team.
Show Volunteers Their Value
The current “official” value of an hour of volunteer service is $27.20.8 And helping a volunteer see how their efforts would translate to wages in the corporate world is beneficial in showing them their impact.
But that should not be the sole method for measuring the value of a volunteer. One thing to consider is that many volunteers end up engaging more deeply in their organizations.9 54% serve on a board, 43% help with fundraising, and 36% donate their professional services. And the exponential value of volunteers who advocate for your organization, champion your cause, invite friends to join, and share about your work on social media is immeasurable.
So show them their impact value every way that you can. Share their economic impact data, tell them stories of lives that have been impacted because they are part of the team, and let them see the end results of the work you are doing. The same factors that motivate and inspire you are the things that will encourage your volunteers as well.
Incorporate Workplace Giving
65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, and $2-3 billion is donated each year through these programs10. That means that over 18 million volunteers work for companies that are willing to match volunteer hours with contributions. In fact, most corporate leaders believe that employees expect them to provide opportunities to engage in community service11.
And yet $4-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed each year12, simply because volunteers or nonprofits are unaware that a matching gift program exists.
84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, and 1 in 3 say they would give a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation13.
Another workplace program that brings in a significant amount of money through volunteering is the Dollars for Doers initiative. Grants are given to qualifying organizations in direct correlation to volunteer hours served. Here’s a list of companies that currently have Dollars for Doers programs.
Encourage your volunteers to find out if their workplaces offer matching gift programs, and give clear and simple instructions for how they can take advantage of those opportunities.
Invite Volunteers to Give
Research has shown that for more than 85 percent of charitable donations, people donated because someone asked them to give14. The inverse is also true – many people do not give because they are simply never asked.
And timeliness matters. Immediately following an event volunteer experience is the most impactful time to ask.
For most of us, asking for donations feels uncomfortable and awkward. One thing to remember, though, is that the request is not for ourselves, but rather for a cause that we truly believe in. Here is a great list of pointers on how to ask for donations.
Converting volunteers into donors can be an easy task if we can simply change the mindset around why we do it. Realize that we are inviting people to share in an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and impact our world for good.
And Some Good News for Organizations…
On a final note, many of you are probably thinking that the middle of a pandemic must be the worst time ever to be asking volunteers to donate. But research actually shows the opposite.
Source: Fidelity Charitable
According to a study produced by Fidelity Charitable, most donors plan to maintain or even increase the amount they donate to charity this year15. In some ways, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on vulnerabilities in society. More people are looking for ways to contribute, and are recognizing the value of helping organizations.
1 Giving USA 2020: Charitable giving showed solid growth, climbing to $449.64 billion in 2019, one of the highest years for giving on record. Giving USA. June 16, 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.
2 Dee Falvo. Data Shows Correlation Between Volunteerism and Giving. CCS Fundraising. September 12, 2018. Accessed August 20, 2020.
3 NEW REPORT: SERVICE UNITES AMERICANS; VOLUNTEERS GIVE SERVICE WORTH $184 BILLION. Corporation for National and Community Service. November 15, 2016. Accessed August 20, 2020
4 Rich Dietz and Brandy Keller. Donor Loyalty Study: A Deep Dive Into Donor Behaviors and Attitudes. Abila. 2016. Accessed August 20, 2020.
5 Time and Money: The Role of Volunteering in Philanthropy. Fidelity Charitable. 2014. Accessed August 20, 2020
6 Sara Cappe. Why Emotional Connections Drive Donations: Lessons From Academic Literature. Maru/Matchbox. January 18, 2018. Accessed August 20, 2020
7 Joshua Gowin, PhD. Why Sharing Stories Brings People Together. Psychology Today. June 6, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2020
8 Value of Volunteer Time. Independent Sector. July 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.
9 Time and Money: The Role of Volunteering in Philanthropy. Fidelity Charitable. 2014. Accessed August 20, 2020
10 Corporate Giving and Matching Gift Statistics [Updated 2020]. Double the Donation. Accessed August 20, 2020
11 Facts & Statistics on Workplace Giving, Matching Gifts, and Volunteer Programs. America’s Charities. Accessed August 20, 2020
12 Facts & Statistics on Workplace Giving, Matching Gifts, and Volunteer Programs. America’s Charities. Accessed August 20, 2020
13 Corporate Giving and Matching Gift Statistics [Updated 2020]. Double the Donation. Accessed August 20, 2020
14 Sara Konrath, PhD. Six Reasons Why People Give Their Money Away, or Not. Psychology Today. November 26, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2020.
15 COVID-19 and Philanthropy How Giving Behaviors are Shifting Amid Pandemic. Fidelity Charitable. March 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.