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VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~2008 ~

Dear Connie:

With the increase in the cost of gasoline, some of my volunteers have indicated they may have to cut their hours with my organization.  We can’t afford to give them a travel allowance.  What can I do?


Dear AR:

You’re not alone!  Many nonprofit organizations are feeling the pinch of the rising costs of everything, including gasoline.  I suggest you work with your volunteers and offer some options to help reduce their costs:

  1. Ask one of your volunteers to organize a carpool service that matches people within the same area of your city.
  2. Let your volunteer corps know that some folks need a break this summer.  Ask for people who live close to your organization to consider taking on more than one shift (temporarily) so that those who live farther away can come less often.
  3. Examine all of your volunteer positions to determine if every single one is essential.  It may be that you can combine some positions or eliminate others.
  4. Ask your volunteers for suggestions on how to make the best use of their time and money when volunteering for your organization.

Finally, remind your volunteers that out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., mileage, parking, tolls, etc.) are tax deductible to itemizers if these expenses are not reimbursed by your organization.  To avoid giving tax advice, direct them to IRS Publication 526 “Charitable Contributions” at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p526/ar02.html#d0e867.   Just click on "Out-of-Pocket Expenses in Giving Services" in the Table of Contents.  It shows the full range of expenses that can be deducted. 

Dear Connie:

Have you got any tips on how to write a letter with a view to get people to volunteer to help with fund raising?


Dear Pamela:

The best way I know of to encourage people to participate in fundraising is to educate them about the importance of it for your organization and how you do it.

1.  Explain that your organization operates on gifts of time and money, both of which are essential to accomplish your mission.  Give specific information on how much $$ you raise annually.

2.  People are often afraid to ask for money, especially from strangers.  So you have to assure volunteers that they will be trained and that they won't be sent out to knock on doors. 

3.  Describe the processes you use to raise money, e.g., special events, telethons, letter-writing campaigns, etc.  Identify specific roles in each activity where volunteers are utilized.

4.  Make it fun!  No one volunteers to be miserable. . . more than once.  If you offer prizes during the telethon, describe them.  If you have a post-event celebration for volunteers, describe that.

5.  Provide a non-threatening way for people to get more information about how to help with fundraising.  Include a brochure in your mailing or provide an email address to answer questions or send them to your website for more information. 

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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.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299

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