Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build recruitment capacity.

Return to 2002 Archives

~ July 2002 ~
  • A Question from Ask Connie
  • Mentoring: A Retention Tool
  • Are You Losing Donors?

A Question from Ask Connie

Dear Readers:

The subject of volunteers and fundraising has many layers and variations. The one that many volunteer program managers struggle with is whether or not to solicit financial contributions from their direct-service volunteers (not volunteer board members or trustees). I'd like to hear from you!

Are the volunteers in your organization solicited for financial contributions? If so, how? If not, why? Please send your responses to me, and I'll share the results of this informal poll in my September column.

Thanks for your help and Happy Summer!


Mentoring: A Retention Tool

Turnover off employees is as big a headache for businesses as volunteer turnover is for nonprofit and governmental programs.Business has found a tool that helps slow the turnover rate. In a study by The Center for Creative Leadership (North Carolina) 77% of companies reported that mentoring programs were effective in retention of employees. In a study by The Managers Mentors (California), 60% of college seniors listed mentoring as a criteria for selecting an employer after graduation.

While no statistics on mentoring volunteers exists, the impact of mentors from elementary schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and businesses cannot be over stated. Perhaps it is time to begin a volunteer mentoring program. Here are some suggestions to get started.

  1. Form a small mentoring planning team. Bring in volunteers who are natural helpers for other volunteers, staff who want to help improve the retention rate.
  2. Collect and publish for the group the history of the attrition rate over the last few years. What is the number of volunteers leaving on an annual basis? Try to determine what it costs to replace those volunteers.
  3. Visit a library, the Internet, or a local business with a strong mentoring program. Gather information on how to organize a program from a practical perspective.
  4. With the committee, plan the steps to organize a pilot-mentoring project. Be sure to include such things as: position descriptions for mentors, written material on effective mentors, guidelines on appropriate and inappropriate activities, a recruiting plan for potential mentors, and an evaluation plan.
  5. Remember to alter position descriptions for volunteers to indicate that mentors are assigned to entry-level volunteers.

Are You Losing Donors?

A study of nine US charities with lapsed donors provides some insight into why people stop giving. Adrian Sargeant, a visiting professor at Indiana University asked 1000 in a variety of nonprofit programs lapsed donors in a variety of nonprofit programs to describe why they quit giving. They had a checklist of reasons from which to choose. Based on his findings he urged organizations to let donors dictate the type of communication they receive from the organization and how often. Below are the results of the study.

1. Feeling that other causes were more deserving (26.5)
2. No longer able to afford support. (22.3)
3. No memory of ever supporting the charity (11.4)
4. Donor still supporting charity by other means. (6.8)
5. Donor relocated. (6.7)
6. Death (5.2)
7. Charity's communication was inappropriate (3.6)
8. Charity did not remind the donor to give again. (3.3)
9. Charity asked for an inappropriate donation amount. (3.1)
10. Charity did not inform donor how contribution was used. (1.7)

For a free copy of the survey results you may contact Mr. Sargeant at


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.

The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal Hill at 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.