How to Turn Your Volunteers into Fundraisers

Andrew Stanley is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub, and is the co-founder of VolunteerMark and Chief Product Officer at WonderWe. He is an avid volunteer and change-maker.
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Have you ever thought about asking your volunteers to help you fundraise? If not, you’re missing out on one of the best opportunities to deeply engage them. Volunteers are natural sources of support because they have large networks that can be activated to help grow your nonprofit’s reach.

Let’s unpack four strategies you can use to help your volunteers get on track to raise funds and awareness for your organization:

Ask Your Volunteers to Engage Their Network in a Fun Competition

At WonderWe, we had a volunteer approach us with an idea to use our technology and his networks to help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City. This volunteer was a Big Brother who was also well-connected in the startup/tech scene here in Kansas City. His mission? To encourage other young, tech savvy professionals to donate and volunteer to help Kansas City’s at-risk youth.

To do this, we got creative and hosted a friendly competition of Kansas City startups. Each startup created a team to compete to raise the most money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Teams were organized on the WonderWe platform, which allowed team members to donate and interact online. This resulted in thousands of dollars raised and several new volunteers for Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Ask Your Volunteers to Help You Organize an ‘a-thon’

Walk-a-thons, read-a-thons, bowl-a-thons and ‘a-thons’ of all types can be a fun and affordable way for volunteers to organize grassroots fundraising. An ‘a-thon’ is simply a gathering of people who agree to a certain task. That task may be reading a certain number of books, walking a certain distance or any other fun activity that is completed for a cause. Each participant ‘pledges’ a certain donation amount for a task they complete. In your case, you could ask one of your volunteers if they would like to organize an ‘a-thon’ at their workplace or children’s school. In this way, they would engage their own networks to bring new volunteers and donors into your cause.

Ask Your Volunteers to Lead a Drive at Their Church

Even in churches there are many people who would love to volunteer, but have never been asked by their friends. You can reach them by asking your volunteers to lead workshops, fund drives or other events at their church to help recruit donors and volunteers to your cause. The key is to have your volunteer lead it as a personal cause so they are able to inspire people with their story. For example, you could ask your volunteer to share a story about a family they personally impacted at the end of a church service.

Ask Your Volunteers to Help with an Instagram Competition

Instagram is a photo sharing social network with very high engagement (much better than Facebook or Twitter). Thus, creating a themed competition on Instagram can be a great way to raise awareness and funds for your organization. For example, you could ask all your volunteers to send you the best picture they have that fits the theme of: ‘service above self,’ or something fun like ‘goofiest photo taken while volunteering.’ You then need to encourage them to share their photos by offering a small prize to the person with the most ‘likes’ on their photo. By doing this, you’ll help grow your nonprofit’s reach with their friends, family and coworkers.

The above strategies are fun ways for you to help your volunteers take grassroots action to raise funds and awareness for your nonprofit. By getting creative with these strategies, you’ll offer some great ways for your volunteers to help your mission!