Guide for Nonprofits

  • Introduction: Gaining Funder Support for Volunteer Engagement
  • More than ever before, volunteer engagement holds the power to help organizations achieve mission.Yet, funding directly for volunteer engagement remains the exception rather than the rule. Why is it so difficult to secure funding in direct support of volunteer engagement efforts? The answer is not simple, but we believe it stems from common challenges and misconceptions from both within organizations and in the philanthropic community.

    As a leader of volunteer engagement, you likely have experienced some or all of these challenges common in our field. As you review this list of challenges, consider these questions:

    1. Which of these challenges have you experienced?
    2. How can you educate and motivate both the leadership in your organization and funders in your community to support capacity building through volunteer engagement?
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  • Increase Impact by Moving from Program to Strategy
  • Volunteer engagement can increase an organization’s capacity well beyond what staff alone can achieve. By embracing volunteer engagement as a core strategy,  organizations increase their impact significantly. Before making the case to a funder to invest in volunteer engagement, it’s important to model strategic engagement  within your organization. Shifting from volunteers as a program to, an organization-wide strategy takes time.  However, by starting with just a few of the steps below, you will be able to authentically demonstrate the benefits to your organization. You are then ready to invite funders to invest in future opportunities to further build your capacity through volunteer engagement.When organizations view volunteer engagement as a strategy, they engage volunteers across all branches and all levels of their organizational chart. On a daily basis, they do all of the following.

    Involve Volunteers across the Organization

    • Think strategically about how to involve volunteers at all levels of the organization.
    • Develop volunteer roles in response to real organizational needs.
    • Have a volunteer pool that reflects the diversity of the community they serve.
    • Engage volunteers in roles that leverage their skills and treat them asvaluable members of work teams.

    Commit to Volunteer Engagement

    • Articulate value of volunteer engagement in the organization’s strategic plan.
    • Have/prepare organizational leaders who actively support and model strategic volunteer engagement.
    • Dedicate budgetary resources to support volunteer involvement.
    • Have a staff professional dedicated to volunteer engagement.
    • Have volunteer engagement policies and procedures that are comprehensive, clear, and consistently applied.

    Train Staff and Volunteers Effectively

    • Effectively trainand orient volunteers about their work and the agency.
    • Provide training in the skills of volunteer supervision/partnership to all staff members who engage and support volunteers.

    Measure and Communicate Volunteer Impact

    • Measure and communicate the overall impact of volunteer involvement.
    • Include volunteer empowerment as a performance measure or accountability indicator for staff.
    • Recognize volunteers in personally meaningful ways.
    • Evaluate how partnering with volunteers impacts your mission currently.
    • Assessment of Volunteer Engagement
    • Use the questions below to assess your overall capacity to engage, support, and sustain volunteer resources and increase impact through strategic engagement.Adapted with permission from JFFixler Group’s “Assessment of Organizational Volunteer Engagement.”

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      Organizational Commitment to Engagement
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We have a strategic plan that includes volunteer engagement and/or a stated philosophy of engagement.        
      We engage volunteers across all levels of the organization.        
      We assess organizational needs and develop volunteer opportunities to address those needs.        
      Our leaders explicitly support strategic engagement, model engagement, and talk about it widely.        
      The volunteer corps reflects the diversity of the community we serves.        
      We have a professional dedicated to volunteer engagement on staff and that individual’s position within the organizational structure reflects the resources this individual manages.        
      Volunteer engagement is incorporated into all staff position descriptions and hold staff members accountable for doing so.        
      Volunteer Roles
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We regularly assess goals and needs to identify opportunities to engage volunteers in the work.        
      We engage volunteers in roles that leverage their skills (such as team leaders, project managers, pro bono consultants, skilled laborers, technology experts, etc.).        
      We offer flexible schedules and/or virtual volunteer opportunities.        
      We have written position/project descriptions for current and future volunteer opportunities.        
      We include volunteers as equal members of teams.        
      Cultivation
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We have a volunteer cultivation plan that is reviewed regularly.        
      We support and encourage individuals to take on new roles in order to stay connected over the years.        
      We train and support staff and volunteers in how to effectively cultivate volunteers.        
      Screening and Placement
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We have an effective screening process for each volunteer position and it is appropriate to the level of skill and risk for each position.        
      We involve both volunteers and staff in the interviewing and placement process.        
      We place volunteers into positions only when their skills, motivations, and interests are a strong match for the position specifically and organizational culture overall.        
      Support and Accountability
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We provide all volunteers with an orientation to familiarize them with the people, systems, programs, and policies relevant to their work with the organization.        
      We ensure that staff and volunteers agree on timeline, communication, outcomes, and accountability for the work at the start of all collaborative projects.        
      We allocate adequate budget, space, technology, and equipment for volunteers to be successful in their roles.        
      Training and Professional Development
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We train and coach all staff members to work effectively with volunteers.        
      Volunteers receive training specific to their roles.        
      Volunteer engagement is incorporated into all staff position descriptions and staff members are held accountable appropriately.        
      Evaluation, Recognition, and Acknowledgement
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We regularly measure and evaluate volunteer impact.        
      We acknowledge individual volunteer contributions and impact through creative and personally meaningful ways.        
      We assess the performance and effectiveness of individual volunteers.        
      We routinely share volunteer impact with leadership, partners, funders, and the community at large.        
      Policies, Infrastructure, and Technology
      Rate how true the following statements are for your organization. Completely True Mostly True Somewhat True Not at all True
      We develop comprehensive volunteer engagement policies and review them regularly.        
      We include volunteer engagement in our risk management planning.        
      We use technology to make volunteer cultivation, tracking, scheduling, and training easy and efficient.        
      We coordinate and communicate between the agency’s volunteer engagement and fund development functions.        
    • Funder Questions About Organizational Capacity
    • Funders seek to assess the overall capacity of a nonprofit to strategically engage volunteers. Through grant proposals and dialogue during site visits, nonprofit leaders have the opportunity to ensure:

      • Grant makers have specific information to use in determining that your request is viable.
      • Grant makers are aware that you have assessed how your organization measures up to a set of recognized standards for volunteer involvement.
      • You and funders have informed dialogue that strengthens your relationship.

      Use the questions below to prepare a proposal and speaking points on your organization’s overall capacity to engage, empower, and sustain volunteer resources and increase impact through strategic engagement.

      Volunteer Involvement

      • How does your organization determine the best way to involve volunteers in meeting its mission?
      • In what specific roles does the agency involve volunteers and are those roles developed in response to real needs of the organization and community?
      • To what extent does the volunteer pool reflect the diversity of the community your organization serves?
      • Does your organization engage volunteers in roles that leverage their skills and treat them as equal members of work teams? If so, how?

      Organizational Commitment to Volunteer Engagement

      • Is volunteer engagement articulated in your strategic plan?
      • Do organizational leaders actively support and model strategic volunteer engagement?
      • Is there a budget to support volunteer involvement (e.g., technology, training, equipment, recognition)?What percentage of the agency budget does it represent?
      • Is there a professional dedicated to volunteer engagement on staff? What is that person’s experience or qualifications for the position? Where is that role within the organizational structure—does its position reflect the resources this individual manages?
      • Are volunteer engagement policies and procedures comprehensive, clear, and consistently applied?

      Training and Professional Development

      • How are volunteers trained or oriented about their work and your agency?
      • Do additional staff members supervise volunteers in the agency? If so, what training do they receive to prepare them to manage their unpaid staff?
      • How does the organization train and develop its volunteer board of directors?

      Impact and Evaluation

      • How does the organization measure and communicate the overall impact of volunteer involvement?
      • What would the organization not be able to accomplish without volunteers?
      • How many volunteers does the organization involve on an annual basis in various roles – from direct service to pro bono roles?
      • What is the monetary value of the time given by volunteers annually? How does your organization determine this value?
      • Is volunteer supervision a performance measure or accountability indicator for staff? Is volunteer engagement included in staff job descriptions?

      Project Management in Relation to Grant Proposal

      • How do volunteers enhance or support the project goals and your organization’s mission?
      • How will other staff ensure that volunteers are engaged effectively and have positive experiences?
      • Does the organization have a budget for volunteer resources management on this project?
      • What additional training, supervision, or evaluation strategies related to volunteer engagement will support this project?
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  • Know the Research About Effective Volunteer Engagement
  •  Compelling reasons to invest in volunteer engagement infrastructure and support to include:

    1. Effective volunteer engagement leverages and increases the impact of grant making.

    • When engaged effectively, volunteers augment an organization’s financial and in-kind resources, producing greater value for each dollar invested.
    • Volunteers provide new or expanded services to increase the return on investment and add significant value to the objectives of grants received by organizations.

    2. Effective volunteer engagement is linked to stronger, more effective, and more efficient organizations as a whole.[1]

    • All organizational capacities are significantly and markedly stronger for nonprofits with a strong volunteer engagement model.
    • When organizations engage any number of volunteers well, they are significantly better led and managed as a whole.
    • Organizations that fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills towards their mission are significantly more adaptable, sustainable, and capable of going to scale.
    • Organizations that engage volunteers are equally as effective as their peers without volunteers, but at almost half the median budget.

    3. Effective volunteer engagement occurs when there is strong organizational and community infrastructure.

    • The organization’s leadership (i.e., board, executive staff, and funders) must consider support of the volunteer infrastructure to be as important as any other organizational resource.
    • Having a strategic volunteer engagement model requires strong and well-developed human resources management practices[2].The ability to engage and retain increasingly diverse volunteers requires highly competent leadership.

    4. Effective volunteer involvement occurs when board and staff at all levels are adequately trained.

    • Training helps board members—many of whom are corporate and philanthropic leaders—and executive staff members understandthat well-supported volunteers can increase an organization’s service and fundraising capacity.
    • Training of volunteers and of the staff who support them is vital to successful volunteer engagement models.

    5. People give their money where they give their time

    Investing in Volunteer Engagement has a Big ROI

    Investing in robust and strategic volunteer engagement infrastructure pays off significantly (e.g., organizations certified as Service Enterprises have reported a $6 return in volunteer value for every dollar invested in volunteer engagement)[3].

    People give their money where they give their time

    • Volunteering can be an important way of evaluating an organization for future financial support, as a significant number of donors (2 in 5) volunteered at a charity before making a financial donation to that organization.
      • Half of volunteers say that volunteering leads them to give more financial support.
      • Nearly 70% of high net worth individuals give financially to the organizations with which they volunteer.
    • Organizations that provide robust volunteer opportunities have an edge in creating a steady donor base and in growing their overall level of financial support.
    • Compared to younger volunteers, volunteers 61-70 years old (65%) are more likely to show interest in opportunities that require a specific skill set. These same volunteers are increasing their interest in philanthropy.

     

    According to a 2009 study by Fidelity Charitable, volunteers give, on average, ten times as much as non-volunteers and most donate to the organizations in which they are involved. Nearly half of the wealthy donors interviewed give financially to most of the organizations where they volunteer.[4]

    Research Shows that Effective Volunteer Engagement…

    • Is linked to stronger, more effective, and more efficient organizations as a whole
    • Leverages and improves grant making and corporate community involvement
    • Requires ongoing training and development
    • Requires organizational and community infrastructure

    Putting Volunteer Engagement at the Core of an Organization

    In 2009, Reimagining Service, a national cross-sector coalition dedicated to better understanding and promoting the power of volunteer engagement, conducted research on the state of engagement in the country. Through this research, the correlation between organizational health and sustainability and effective engagement of volunteers became clear. The term “Service Enterprise” was coined to describe an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills to achieve its social mission. Now, Points of Light offers the opportunity to be certified as a Service Enterprise through a comprehensive training program to transform to an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills.

    Research conducted by TCC Group and Deloitte demonstrates that nonprofits operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all measures of organizational capacity thereby allowing these nonprofits to more effectively address community needs and operate at almost half the median budget.

    Points of Light

    [1]TCC Group, “’Positive Deviants’ in Volunteerism and Service: Research Summary,” http://www.pointsoflight.org/service-enterprise-initiative/research.
    [2]TCC Group, “’Positive Deviants’ in Volunteerism and Service: Research Summary,”http://www.pointsoflight.org/service-enterprise-initiative/research.
    [3]Points ofLight, “Where Should Nonprofits Use Volunteers?Everywhere.” http://www.pointsoflight.org/blog/2013/10/22/where-should-nonprofits-use-volunteers-everywhere.
    [4]Fidelity Charitable, “Fidelity®Charitable Gift Fund Volunteerism and Charitable Giving in 2009 Executive Summary” https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/docs/Volunteerism-Charitable-Giving-2009-Executive-Summary.pdf

    • From Funder Investment to Impact!
    • When funders invest in volunteer and community engagement infrastructure, the bottom line is that communities experience increased capacity for impact – addressing critical needs and solving more problems.

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  • Build Your Case for Investing in Volunteer Engagement
  • Building a case for investing in volunteer engagement at your organization lays an foundation for future funding. These three steps will ensure your case to present to potential funders about the value and return on investing in your organization’s volunteer engagement infrastructure and strategy.

    Steps to take to Build Your Case

    1. Prepare

    Preparation is vital to making a clear and compelling case for support. Use the Key Questions to Consider before Contacting Potential Funders to guide your preparation.

    2. Construct a Case Statement

    After answering the Key Questions, use those responses to craft a case statement. A case statement is a document that communicates the rationale, need, focus, and vision of what will be different as a result of an initiative for which you are seeking support. A comprehensive case statement usually includes:

    • Background on why the initiative is needed at this time
    • Connection to mission and vision
    • Stakeholders
    • Examples of exemplary programs at the organization or at peer organizations
    • A Direct Request for Support and Action (your case statement)

    Click here for a template to use to develop your case statement.

    When crafting your case statement, be specific about your strengths, your vision, and the needs you have to help you accomplish your vision of leveraging volunteer engagement to increase your impact. Encourage funders to examine your organization’s ability to steward not only their financial resources, but their human resources as well. Share stories of how volunteers are already effectively building your capacity and increasing your organization’s impact on the community, the environment, and/or the world.

    Furthermore, incorporate compelling messages about the value of investing in strategic volunteer engagement. For the most recent research on volunteer engagement, link to the research summary.

    3. Present your Case

    In addition to preparing your case, develop speaking points and prepare well for objections by potential funders. Examples include:

    Financial resources are limited, yet community needs continue to rise. We must steward well the resources we have and develop creative, new ways to tap the abundant resource of skills and passion around us.Supporting volunteer engagement infrastructure gives you the “multiplier effect!” You multiply your investment by helping our organization serve more clients, raise more funds, and deliver more programs by engaging volunteers to serve our mission. 

    For additional resources to help you prepare, develop, and present your case for funder support of volunteer engagement, use the resources below:

    • Key Questions to Consider Before Contacting Potential Funders
    • Adapted from Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement, by Betty Stallings.

      1. What problem or need is does your organization work to resolve or address?
      1. Who or what is affected by this challenge?
      1. How can volunteer involvement help to address the problem? What skills or talents would build your capacity to address these challenges?
      1. How are you already engaging volunteers to address some of these needs?
      1. How are volunteers already making an impact on this issue? What are the specific benefits of engaging volunteers in increased or different ways? Impacts and benefits could include increased public awareness, more people served, better services being delivered, dollars raised through fundraising, new skills within the organization, stronger staff, and more.
      1. How is your organization unique in addressing the problem? How is your organization unique in the ways it engages the community as partners in addressing these challenges?
      1. What is the desired outcome of this increased effort? What difference will new or more volunteers be able to make? (For example, how many people will be reached? Programs delivered? How will the clients benefit? How much funds will be raised?)
      1. What will it cost to reach the desired outcome? Consider budget for both cash expenses and donated resources, whether people, funds, or in-kind services.
      1. Which donor(s) or funder(s) will you ask for support and why? Are they funders that already have interest in volunteer engagement or capacity building initiatives? How will each prospective donor or funder benefit from giving you support?
    • Case Statement Template
    • Adapted from JFFixler Group’s Case Statement for Volunteer Engagement, downloadable at https://jffixler.com/case-statement-volunteer-engagement

      Case statements communicate the rationale, need, focus, and vision of what will be different as a result of an initiative. A statement ensures consistency in promoting an initiative and helps to garner support. It can be used to develop speaking points, print materials, and proposals to share with prospective funders.

      Download as PDF

      Background (how or why the initiative is being developed)

      Connection (to mission and vision)

      Stakeholders (who is involved in, supporting, and/or benefitting from the initiative)

      Examples (of existing exemplary programs and services within the organization)

      Your Case Statement

      Speaking Points

      Elevator Speech

    • Seven Key Messages About Strategic Volunteer Engagement
    • Seven key messages about strategic volunteer engagement in nonprofit organizations emerge from the most recent research around strategic engagement and investing in it. Select some of these messages and incorporate them wherever possible into your case statement and speaking points.

      1. For foundations and corporations, effective volunteer engagement leverages and improves grant making and adds value,

      • When engaged effectively, volunteers augment an organization’s financial and in-kind resources, producing greater value for each dollar invested.
      • Volunteers can provide new or expanded services to increase the return on investment and add significant value to the objectives of a grant.
      • Citizen engagement can be a key indicator of the health of both the nonprofit sector and individual organizations. Knowing what to look for in assessing how a nonprofit manages its volunteer resources provides grant makers and businesses with another observation and decision-making tool.

      2. For companies, effective volunteer engagement can support their business objectives and ensure a high impact experience for their corporate volunteers.

      • Employee volunteer involvement builds morale and loyalty and provides opportunities for employees to share and develop their skills and expertise.
      • Supporting volunteering can help a company leverage and align its community relations, public affairs, and financial contributions to establish (or reinforce) a brand identity, company loyalty, and community goodwill.
      • Helping to build nonprofit capacity in engaging volunteers is an important way that businesses can generate societal wealth–creating jobs, respecting the environment, and making other lasting contributions to the community.

      3. For organizations, effective volunteer engagement strengthens their ability to meet critical needs and deliver services.

      • Strategically designed volunteer opportunities and well supported volunteers enhance a nonprofit’s community reputation for their ability to meet critical needs.
      • Volunteers are not “free,” but investing in robust and strategic volunteer engagement infrastructure pays off significantly (e.g., organizations certified as Service Enterprises have reported a $6 return in volunteer value for every dollar invested in volunteer engagement).
      • Increasing the diversity of who volunteers and how they volunteer provides organizations with increased access to a broader range of perspectives, skills, and resources.
      • Volunteers are donors, too. In 2013-2015, volunteers were nearly twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers[1].

      4. Effective volunteer engagement is linked to stronger, more sustainable,and more efficient organizations as a whole.[2]

      • All organizational capacities are significantly stronger for nonprofits with an effective volunteer engagement infrastructure.
      • Organizations that fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills towards accomplishing their mission are significantly more adaptable, sustainable, and capable of going to scale.
      • Organizations that engage volunteers are equally as effective as their peers without volunteers, but at almost half the median budget.

      5. Effective volunteer engagement occurs when there is strong organizational and community infrastructure.

      • The organization’s leadership (i.e., board, executive staff, and funders) must consider support of the volunteer infrastructure to be as important as any other organizational resource.
      • Having a strategic volunteer engagement model requires strong and well-developed human resources management practices[3]. The ability to engage and retain increasingly diverse volunteers requires highly competent leadership.

      6. Effective volunteer involvement occurs when staff and board members are trained and supported.

      • Corporate and community volunteers who understand how to work with a nonprofit and what to expect in return are more willing to share their expertise and time.
      • Training helps board members – many of whom are corporate and philanthropic leaders – and executive staff members to understand that well-supported volunteers can increase an organization’s service and fundraising capacity.
      • Training of volunteers and of the staff who support them is vital to successful volunteer engagement models.

      7. Effective volunteer involvement contributes to maintaining a civil society.

      • Grant makers, government, and business can meet their community involvement goals by supporting the structures and systems that enable more effective volunteering.
      • When people know how to support their community, when it is easy for them to get involved, and when their experience is meaningful, they are more likely to continue volunteering.
      [1]Corporation for National & Community Service, “Volunteering and Civic Life in America,” https://www.nationalservice.gov/vcla.
      [2]TCC Group, “’Positive Deviants’ in Volunteerism and Service: Research Summary,” http://www.pointsoflight.org/service-enterprise-initiative/research.
      [3]TCC Group, “’Positive Deviants’ in Volunteerism and Service: Research Summary,”http://www.pointsoflight.org/service-enterprise-initiative/research.

       

    • Constructing a Case Statement
    • Adapted from Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement, by Betty Stallings.

      When crafting your case statement, be specific about your vision, your strengths and your needs to help you accomplish your vision.

      There are two essential rules when constructing a case statement to make financial support of volunteer involvement credible.

      1. DON’T approach funders with a budget to support the infrastructure of running a volunteer program.

      • Infrastructure supports your organization, not your clients. Focusing on the internal needs is the biggest mistake in fundraising!
      • Speaking of a “volunteer program” isolates community participation into a special project, possibly viewed in competition with more client-centered “programs.” Remember, you would not refer to an “employee program,’ would you?

      An Ineffective Ask:

      We need money to fund the position of a volunteer coordinator so that the program runs more smoothly and efficiently and our volunteers have a more organized and successful experience.

      Probable Funder Response:

      How are you different than any other organization that would like a volunteer coordinator? What difference would it make in carrying out your mission?

      2. DO request funding that will empower volunteers to expand the reach of your mission.

      • Whatever your mission—ending hunger, improving the environment, enabling seniors to live independently—it is that goal which funders will want to be identified and which they will likely support.

      An Effective Ask:

      Divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression are frequently associated with those who must care for seriously ill children. We are looking for funds to extend our support to approximately 1,300 families in our region who care for a child with a serious illness. Expanding the number of community volunteers (more targeted recruitment) and strengthening their skills (formal Training) to provide respite services will allow us to increase and enhance our overall service to these families.

      Probable Funder Response:

      We share your interest in extending assistance to additional families with a seriously ill child and will consider your request of maximizing the support through service provided by an increased number of effectively trained volunteers.

    • Talking Points to Gain Donor Support for Volunteer Involvement
    • Adapted from Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement, by Betty Stallings.

      “We are leveraging resources when engaging volunteers.”

      Think of all the ways that supporting volunteers in your organization will provide leveraging opportunities:

      • Donated time by many people will attract other resources, including matched gifts and word-of-mouth publicity
      • Expanded services (for example, volunteers can provide services during hours when many employees might not work)
      • Successful innovative ideas shared with others providing a similar service. Offer to write up your findings and share with those who could adapt your techniques.

      “All funded programs need community oversight.”

      Any organization that receives private donations or public support is truly owned by the community. Therefore, engaging volunteers from the community in the effort makes a great deal of sense, both as watchdogs for use of the money and as individuals who can expand the services.

      “Volunteers extend our services beyond what our budget could buy.”

      Always avoid saying “volunteers” save us money.” In most cases, volunteers are not actually saving the organization money as the organization could not have spent funds they didn’t have. The reality is that volunteers expand the budget and extend the services of the organization. If we perpetuate the thought that volunteers save organizations money, we are also implying that, if we all had the funds we needed, volunteers would be expendable. This is not true because volunteers are more valuable than the cost involved in supporting them.

      “The return on investment (ROI) with volunteers is tremendous when they are strategically deployed and well managed.”

      Be confident that the investment of dollars and time to support volunteers provides a significant return to the organization. ROI is increasingly of great interest to private and public funders. While it is difficult to put an exact value on the time a volunteer mentors a child or advocates for a clean environment, we can still speak in terms of the outcomes and impact of the work of volunteers. For example:

      • Last year, our volunteer tutors prepared twenty-five low income, high-risk young people for successful entrance into a junior college.
      • With the organized support of regular volunteer visits, we have successfully helped fifty over age eighty-five to stay in their homes independently for a longer period of time than they could before.
      • A team of pro bono volunteers skilled in software development upgraded our existing software and developed new report formats so that we now can track client service benchmarks clearly.

      “Volunteers are often financial donors, too.”

      According to 2009 research, volunteers give, on average, ten times as much as non-volunteers[1] and most donate to the organizations in which they are involved. Nearly half of the wealthy donors interviewed give financially to most of the organizations where they volunteer.[2]

      [1]Fidelity Charitable, “Fidelity®Charitable Gift Fund Volunteerism and Charitable Giving in 2009 Executive Summary”https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/docs/Volunteerism-Charitable-Giving-2009-Executive-Summary.pdf
      [2]U.S. Trust and IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, “The 2016 U.S. Trust ® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy,”http://www.ustrust.com/publish/content/application/pdf/GWMOL/USTp_ARMCGDN7_oct_2017.pdf.
    • Preparing to Respond to Possible Donor Objectives
    • Adapted from Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement, by Betty Stallings.You may need to educate a prospective funder about the value of volunteers and their abilities. Therefore, before you make your funding request, consider all the objectives, or at least concerns, a donor or funder might have when deciding whether to give you money. Then, prepare your responses. Here is an example:

      Donor Objection: “My experience is that volunteers are not reliable and you might find yourself investing more in them than they return in service to the organization.

      Potential Response: “I am sorry that you have had that experience with volunteers. In our organization, we do a very thorough job of selecting the right volunteers for positions available, hold volunteers accountable, and treat them as partners in our important mission. We have had remarkable success with volunteers carrying out the commitment they pledge to us. We hold re-commitment discussions with volunteers every quarter so that we can detect any dissatisfaction or needs for additional training or a change in position.”

      What are the potential objections you anticipate hearing in response to your request for funds to support your involvement of volunteers? How will your respond? 

      Possible Donor Objections Your Potential Response
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  • Track and Share Results
  • This section adapted from Enhancing the Volunteer Lifecycle, by Beth Steinhorn, an e-book published by Verified Volunteers.

    Volunteers today are motivated by the chance to do meaningful work – work that makes a difference. Of course, measuring volunteer impact is not only valuable for volunteers. Understanding the impact of volunteer involvement can help improve programs, build staff buy-in for their engagement efforts, and communicate to funders, donors, and the larger community how the organization is stewarding its resources overall.

    Most organizations continue to measure volunteer contributions simply by counting the number of hours volunteers engage. Acknowledging the dedication and commitment of volunteers can be valuable. But counting hours is limiting, at best. More hours does not necessarily translate to more impact, nor does it promote efficiency. While hours may need to be tracked for grant reporting requirements, there is value in getting beyond hours alone.

     

    Getting from Hours to Outcomes

    Sharing the impact of volunteer involvement is a compelling and vital part of making the case to funders for investing in volunteer engagement. Here are some steps and tools to shift your measurement beyond hours alone.

    • Translate hours to financial value, using resources such as the annual value of volunteer time published by the Independent Sector or Bureau of Labor Statistics’ information on comparable hourly values for related paid positions.
    • Calculate your Return on Volunteer Investment (ROVI) by considering not only the value of the volunteer talent but also the amount of time and money that the organization invests in recruiting, training, supporting, supervising, and recognizing volunteers. You can find a Return on Volunteer Investment (ROVI) calculator through Verified Volunteers.

    Track the outcomes of volunteer involvement. Outcomes-based evaluation focuses on tracking and measuring the difference that volunteers make in such terms as people reached, trees planted, books distributed, improved school performance by students being tutored, health screenings conducted, legislation passed, and more. Measuring outcomes in these terms really tells the story of the vital roles that volunteers play in an organization and in the community and can truly be the tipping point in garnering funder support.

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  • Leverage Resources
  • Online Resources

    The literature of the nonprofit sector has ample materials related to volunteerism and volunteer engagement. While this is not meant to serve as an exhaustive list, the following organizations offer additional research and information.

    JFFixler Group
    JFFixler.com
    Center for Nonprofit Excellence
    cnecoloradosprings.org
    The Leighty Foundation
    leightyfoundation.org
    Grantmakers for Effective Organizations 
    geofunders.org
    Energize, Inc. 
    energizeinc.com
    Points of Light 
    pointsoflight.org
    Independent Sector 
    independentsector.org
    America’s Service Commissions
    statecommissions.org

    Books/Publications

    Rosenthal, Robert J. ed., Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and insights changing the world. John Wiley & Sons. 2015.

    Stallings, Betty with Susan J. Ellis. Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement: Practical Tools for Busy Executives.

    Stallings, Betty. 55-Minute Training Series

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