Tag Archives: training volunteers

Volunteer Management – Ten Things to Consider

Volunteers make all the difference in the world!
Here are 10 things you – as a volunteer coordinator – can consider as you grow your program.

  1. Have you developed a volunteer engagement, management and recognition program for your division?
  2. Are volunteer roles and responsibilities for your program clearly defined, documented and updated?
  3. Are you tracking past, current and potential volunteers and how they can be – or are – of service? Are you tracking their interests, relationships and birthdays?
  4. How do you communicate with your volunteers?
  5. How do your volunteers communicate with you?
  6. How do you inspire and motivate your volunteers on a consistent basis?
  7. Have you developed an ongoing support and training program to support and grow volunteer involvement?
  8. Do you encourage volunteers to make a financial gift to your organization?
  9. Have you developed a volunteer manual to help guide and orient your volunteers to your organization and the needs of the community?
  10. Do you have a “buddy system” that pairs new volunteers with more experienced volunteers?


Volunteers: The Key to Nonprofit Success

Fundraising: Nonprofit board roles and responsibilitiesPart 5

Volunteers are at the heart of fundraising. They make all the difference in the world. They are passionate, connected, creative, and talented. And they need to be managed. Ask anyone who has served as a fundraising volunteer and you will quickly learn what made their experience great and what fueled disappointment. Perhaps you, as a volunteer, have experienced the joys and the pitfalls.

Here are some things to keep in mind. As an organization, make sure you know exactly what you want people to do before seeking volunteers. Create a one-page document outlining “roles and responsibilities” for each type of volunteer you need. Outline expectations for event volunteers, members of the phone-a-thon committee, or the corporate sponsorship committee. It may sound like a lot of work, but if people don’t know what you are asking them to do, it is hard for them to hit the mark.

If you are asked to help with fundraising, ask questions before saying “yes.” If you are not provided with written roles and responsibilities, request them. Here’s how to say “yes” while setting boundaries around your involvement:  “That sounds like something I can do. Would you write up your expectations, and any dates I should be aware of? I will review and confirm.”

When you say “yes,” treat your volunteer commitments as seriously as you treat your personal and professional commitments. Apply your talents and creativity, ask questions, engage your network.  You can provide valuable resources and leadership that are beyond the scope of staff.

As a volunteer you can make a difference by providing printing, web design services, meeting facilitation, a reduced or no-cost lease, food, legal services, transportation or products/services directly related to the organization’s mission. You can host a gathering at your office introducing the organization to your peers and encouraging them to give money and pro-bono services.

As a staff member, you need to be prepared to manage volunteers and respond to their requests and ideas. Allocate time for this. Be prepared to change how you do business. Volunteers may make requests that stretch your resources and your thinking. You may feel frustrated. That’s natural, but unhelpful. Be prepared to partner and to change.

Volunteers can take you to new levels; they can open doors that staff only dream of. Be prepared. Clearly communicating roles and responsibilities sets a framework for accountability. From there you can negotiate as volunteers bring new ideas to the table. You can choose to think of volunteers as “prima donnas” who take up your time. Or you can consider their requests and ideas as reasonable responses that arise out of their desire to help you. If your organization allocates adequate time to managing and supporting volunteers all parties can benefit.

© Copyright Saad & Shaw.  Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.

Busy People Can Help You

“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” That’s right, ask a busy person. “Aren’t they too busy?” you might ask. Actually, we have learned that successful busy people manage their time well. They have to. If you ask a busy person for help they will ask what you need accomplished, and by when. If they can, they will commit and deliver. If they can’t, they won’t.

Here are some suggestions for engaging busy people to help your organization:

  1. Clearly define what you want the person to accomplish.
  2. Clearly define project time frame and deadlines.
  3. Consider what the person will need from you in order to accomplish the task. Be prepared to provide that assistance or information.
  4. Communicate the impact that their help will have on your organization or the community.
  5. Communicate a sense of calm urgency.
  6. Thank the person for her involvement.

Call your prospective volunteer and provide her with an overview of what you are seeking to accomplish and how she can help. Keep the conversation short. Send her the details via email. All of the points above should not be longer than 1-2 pages.

For example, if you were asking a museum curator to invite local artists to serve as judges for your youth art program here is a simple version of what you could write up.

Project: Local Artists Serve as Judges for 2011 Youth Exhibition

Goal: Engage four local artists to serve as judges for the Sprint Youth Art Exhibition. Artists should have local name recognition and represent different disciplines.

About the Youth: Most of the children we serve are Hispanic or African American ages 3 –11 from the surrounding neighborhood. They participate in our Youth Studio program on Saturday afternoons and visit a local museum each quarter. Art programs were eliminated from their elementary school two years ago. Our work engages young people with their creativity and provides them with access to basic arts education.

Key Dates: January 15 – artists confirmed; February 1 – artist information submitted (see below); April 1 –opening reception for artists and judges; April 17 – Exhibit and Judging; May 1 – Send out thank you letters with framed collage of winning works of art.

Information required: Photo of artist, 150 word bio, photo of artist’s work

Anticipated time required: 15 hours over a four month period

Be sure to check in at agreed upon times. Let your volunteer know you are there to support her. “Let’s touch base in a few days. If you find there is anything you need, let me know and I will get it for you.”

Finally, be sure to personally thank your volunteer and anyone she engages (in this case, the artists). At the end of the project you want volunteers to feel good about the experience, that they contributed something of value, so that they will want to continue involvement with your organization.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

Fundraising Fundamentals

When it comes to raising money for a non-profit organization or institution the emphasis is often “this is how much money we need; who can we get it from?” That may be all well and good, but in most cases our response is “let’s take a moment to see if your fundamentals are in place.” By this we mean taking the time to make sure the important work of education, awareness, and involvement has preceded the launch of your fundraising. These are important because an educated, aware and involved donor is more likely to make – and continue to make – a gift to your organization.

Here’s what we mean.

 Education. This refers to internal and external education. Does everyone within your organization or institution know what you are raising money for and why? Do they understand your strategic plan, what it will take to implement the plan, what it will cost, and what the impact will be? Externally this refers to educating your donors and community about the needs your institution addresses, how your programs or advocacy make an impact, and what will be different as a result of your work.

 Awareness. The process of increasing awareness for your organization or institution builds on – and often coincides with – the work of educating your internal and external constituencies.  Awareness activities draw attention to your organization or institution, and let people know about specific programs, achievements or advocacy campaigns. They can include inviting people to visit your offices, or to tour your campus. If you are committed to making sure young men make choices that keep them out of prison, then awareness may take the form of inviting people to visit your local juvenile detention facility so they can see what happens to young men if they enter the juvenile justice system.

Involvement. Studies have shown that people who are involved with an organization tend to be more consistent donors. That goes for young donors, older donors, large donors, and those giving smaller gifts. A donor’s attachment to your organization is based on experience. The more meaningful that experience is, the better. The days of asking volunteers to mail out newsletters are over. Today involvement can mean “would you help us create content for our monthly e-newsletter” or “would you be willing to be a mentor, giving an afternoon a week to a young brother?”

Fundraising. This is the fourth step in the process we call “fundraising.” Asking for money without having first engaged in education, awareness and involvement makes the ask more challenging. People don’t know you. They don’t know what you do. They don’t know why they should support your organization when they are already supporting another. Many times they don’t “feel” you. When you put in place mechanisms for the above three activities the process of asking for money should be easier.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.

Three Fundraising Workshops Not to Miss

Here are three upcoming workshops in the SF Bay Area that will help you raise money to better your community. Get out your pen and paper — or your iphone — and note the following dates so you can take advantage of these low-cost, high-quality learning and networking opportunities!

1. Apply now! If you need to know how to raise money from individuals for your non-profit then you need to sign up for the Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color. This seven month training program is focused on helping nonprofits based in communities of color in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. The deadline to apply is Friday, August 20th.The Academy is offered by CompassPoint and the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) and begins in October.

 The Fundraising Academy helps nonprofits led by people of color that are primarily supported by foundation grants or government funds. Learn how to build a base of supporters from the communities you serve and advocate for. Learn how to shift your approach to fundraising, strengthen your skills, and increase your goals and results. Click here for more information or call (510) 452-4520 x301 and ask to talk with Manish. You can also visit www.grassrootsfundraising.org to find more great information to help grow your fundraising. Tell them Mel and Pearl sent you!

2. Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp. Saturday August 14, 2010 on the UC Berkeley Campus. This one-day boot camp is for people who are concerned about their communities and neighborhoods. The focus of Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp is simple: to connect, motivate and inspire greater community impact. This year’s boot camp has a new community-building focus that will bring together emerging and experienced leaders in the social and nonprofit sectors, aspiring and accomplished social entrepreneurs, professionals and decision makers from government, business and the community building sectors. If you want to learn from and network with people who want to enrich and empower their local communities and neighborhoods then this is the conference for you. To learn more visit www.craigslistfoundation.org or call (415) 278-0404. If you are a student or your organization has a budget of less than $500,000 the cost is just $99.

3. Fifth Annual Nonprofit Management Institute. October 5th – 6th on the Stanford University Campus. Hosted by the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This institute will help you figure out how to lead your organization during these challenging times of structural change. The recession has permanently changed the approaches organizations need to take to raise funds; nonprofits have to work with government in new ways; traditional governance models are shifting; and social media has turned communication upside down. This year’s institute will address these important strategic topics and emphasize the new leadership skills needed for managing and growing nonprofit organizations during times of dramatic change. Click here for more information visit or call 703-519-8494.

Don’t be left out! You need to know what it takes to stay afloat and grow. And as always, remember to have a FUNdraising Good Time!

Boards and Fundraising: Common Complaints and Proposed Solutions

Is Your Board a Fundraising Board?

Is Your Board a Fundraising Board?

We hear a lot about boards and fundraising.  Below are comments and questions we hear from leadership and staff of organizations and from board members.  Do these sound familiar? Take a look.

Common staff comments and questions:

  1. How can we get our board more involved with fundraising?
  2. We give them a goal each year, but they never meet it.
  3. We can’t get 100% of our board to give.
  4. Our board is more interested in policy than in fundraising.
  5. Everyone agrees on our fundraising plan at the board meeting, but board members just don’t follow through.

Common board comments and questions:

  1. We are willing to get involved, but the goals are unreasonable.
  2. I didn’t join the board to raise money.
  3. They keep changing the fundraising goal – I need a strong and consistent case for support before I introduce my contacts to the institution.
  4. The CEO is unwilling to meet with prospective donors.
  5. I keep asking for training but I really haven’t gotten any yet.

It is always easier to point the finger at someone other than ourselves when we fall short of our goals. Here are some actions for staff and board members to take that can help increase collaboration in the area of fundraising. Circle each of the actions you are willing to take.

Staff Actions

  1. I am willing to meet individually with each board member to review our fundraising goals and objectives and to ask each board member how she or he would be willing to help us meet these goals.
  2. I am willing to let the board determine its fundraising goal.
  3. I am willing to secure ongoing fundraising training for the board that includes time for role playing, time for the board itself to agree upon a fundraising goal, and time for the development of strategies regarding how board members will achieve their agreed upon goal.
  4. I am willing to integrate quick and fun activities into all our board meetings that build the fundraising skills of the board.
  5. I am willing to work with the board president to learn how she would like to personally solicit each board member. I am willing to provide her with support, coaching, materials and training as needed so that she can take ownership of the board solicitation process and ensure 100% giving by all board members.
  6. I am willing to create a culture within our organization that is accountable, transparent and responsive to donor questions and requests.

Board Actions

  1. I am willing to make a gift to the institution that represents one of my largest annual philanthropic donations.
  2. I am willing to engage in fundraising as part of my responsibility as a board member even if feels uncomfortable to me.
  3. I am willing to invest the time it takes to become conversant in the mission, goals, programs and strategic plan of the organization I serve.
  4. I am willing to ask those I know whose values are in alignment with those of the institution I serve to make a gift to the institution or to a specific project.
  5. I am willing to ask questions of the organization’s leadership so that I can best respond to questions that other people may have about the organization. I am willing to ask the difficult questions that people talk about privately but won’t address publicly.
  6. I am willing to take the initiative to make sure that our board meetings always include active discussion and reporting by board members on the topic of fundraising and what we are doing to fulfill our agreed upon fundraising agreements.

It is always easier to point the finger at others. Our question is this – what are you willing to do?

Saad & Shaw provides organizations and institutions with creative and engaging board workshops. If you would like for us to work with you, please let us know. An easy first step is to work with How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. This book is written for fundraising volunteers. It walks the novice and the professional through the process of preparing to solicit, as well as guidelines for making the ask, and following up.

How To Solicit a Gift

How To Solicit A Gift!Have you been asked to raise money for a non-profit, college, hospital or church? Are you willing but not sure how to proceed? Is it your job to prepare volunteers and staff to solicit gifts? If so, How to Solicit a Gift was written for you!

We wrote How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors for two reasons. To help people learn how to ask others for a gift to an organization or institution they believe in. And to help the staff of non-profits, colleges, churches and hospitals understand how to best prepare volunteers to solicit gifts.

Fundraising is much more than simply asking people for money. 90% of fundraising is preparation. Only 10% is actual solicitation. Learn what it’s all about and how you can succeed.

Everything You Need to Know about Fundraising

fundraisingday2009Join us at Fundraising Day 2009 in San Francisco on Monday May 4th!

Fundraising Day 2009 is the West Coast’s premier full-day training conference designed for today’s development staff, executive directors, board members, volunteers, and consultants—from newcomer to seasoned pro. Fundraising Day 2009 offers ideas, tools and opportunities to refresh your skills and ignite your enthusiasm.

If you are charged with raising money for your organization this is the conference for you! Everything you need to know under one roof.  Meet your peers. Meet experts in the field. Learn best practices. Consider attending if you are a volunteer or a staff member. Get answers to your questions and find a way to help your organization.

Topics include: Raising Funds in Challenging Times, Annual Fund, Major Gifts and Campaigns, Donor Stewardship, Reality Grantmaking, Online Giving, Issue Caucuses, and much more! Scholarships are available if you need financial assistance! Continue reading