VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
Volunteers and Fundraising at a University:
I work for a large University. The "department"
where I am employed as a volunteer and outreach coordinator is aided
by a member driven support group - "The Friends." Currently
anyone who wishes to be a volunteer must join this support group and
there is an annual fee. The support group does provide funding for my
"department," some of which is used for the volunteer program.
In this sense the volunteers are financially supporting their program.
When I first learned of this practice I thought that it was crazy to
ask people to essentially pay to volunteer, however I have come to realize
that this department is not as supported by the University as one would
have thought. The volunteers receive extensive training, workshops,
field trips, access to staff expertise, etc., in addition to their member
benefits (discounts, newsletter, two free social events per year, free
parking). It is important to encourage new volunteers to know about
and participate in the "Friends" board meetings and events.
I find that prospective and new volunteers are amenable to the membership
once they have enough information and this requires divulging the "Organization's"
business and a constant stream of communication.
Volunteers and Fundraising in an Aquarium:
We have solicited our volunteers and we do it
carefully. Volunteers have been terrific in purchasing tiles for our
newest exhibit, participating in an auction of our retiring president's
collectibles, and some of them participate on a fundraising advisory
committee to our development department. Many of our volunteers are
members of our highest membership category. I try to inject humor into
the preparation for the ask, such as, "We know you already have
given us an arm and a leg, but now we want your blood," or "Are
there less than 6 degrees of separation between you and a potential
benefactor for the Aquarium?" I have not heard any adverse reaction.
We do ask our direct service volunteers to contribute
if they'd like. All volunteers are added to our donor database and receive
newsletters and direct mail pieces aimed at raising money. We also ask
volunteers to contribute financially in fundraisers. In 2000 we did
a capital campaign to fund a new kitchen and office facility and volunteers
were asked to contribute and many did, some pretty significantly. I
don't have solid statistics at the moment, but my guess is over 50%
of our volunteers donate to our agency each year.
Volunteers and Fundraising in a Hospice:
I work in Hospice and I have a problem even asking volunteers to supply food and paper goods for events. I feel that since they are not paid staff, they should not be asked to spend their money. Volunteers are occasionally asked to do fundraising events that cost a lot of money. I feel they should be free of charge.
Volunteers and Fundraising in a Museum:
Our docent volunteers are asked to become members of the museum and our support organization, the Alliance. This year they were approached about possibly contributing as a group or as individuals to help pay for a graduate assistant position at the museum. Their reaction was pretty uniformly negative. They felt that they give so much of their time already and should not be used as a source for funds. However, many do give a substantial amount of money to the museum, joining at the higher levels of membership, contributing to our annual fund, belonging to collector groups, etc. (I was actually surprised at the strength of their reaction, since the volunteers at a number of local performing arts organizations do contribute as volunteer groups and are listed on the organizations' donor rolls.) I do suspect that if the group was approached for something near and dear, like a memorial fund for a departed docent or to help fund something for kids , we might have had a different reaction.
Assistant Director of Education
Volunteers and Fundraising in a Social Services Agency:
Yes, our agency definitely solicits donations
from our volunteers. They are all on our mailing list and receive our
bimonthly agency newsletter, which includes a return envelope for donations,
and the periodic appeal letters we send out. We currently send four
fundraising appeal letters per year. Very few of our volunteers protest;
most are regular financial donors. In fact, we find they are among our
biggest supporters simply because they volunteer here and know the programs
intimately through their volunteer work, know that we are a good organization
from their personal contact with us on a regular basis, and know the
money is being put to good use. They are invested in the agency doing
well, so they support it through their time and money. We are 99% volunteer-driven.
Volunteers are the life-blood of our agency. We have few paid staff.
Maybe that makes us different from other agencies, as the volunteers
are really the agency.
Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!
Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.
Send your questions to Connie at: AskConnieP@cs.com.
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