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”
[2]U.S. Trust and IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, “The 2016 U.S. Trust ® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy,”