Five Tips for Turning Advocates into Volunteers

Advocates are a vital piece of any nonprofit’s support system. Intangible encouragement from advocates matters just as much as any monetary donation. Advocates aren’t just voices of support, though; they’re also a great resource when you’re looking to increase your nonprofit’s volunteer base. A study performed by VolunteerMatch and Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund showed that 67 percent of volunteers also give money to the organizations where they invest their time. On average, those volunteers end up spending 10 times more than other donors.

That being said, it can be tough to figure out the first step for turning advocates into volunteers. We’ve come up with a handful of tips for helping your supporters take the first plunge into volunteerism.

Recognize Supporters

Be sure to take the time to make your advocates feel recognized. Acknowledge your supporters by giving them a shout-out in newsletters, social media and direct mailings. Doing so helps boost communication with your advocates and encourage continued engagement. But don’t stop there—use those channels to remind people that volunteering, not just donating, is another great way to give back to your cause.

Go Digital

Going digital offers countless chances for creative interaction with younger generations. It gives you the chance to engage your advocates on their terms by talking about their passions and stories. Social media and the web are making it easier than ever to participate in conversations with your supporters. These are a few tips to ensure success for your digital communication with advocates:

  • Make sure your website is accessible on smartphones. 60 percent of digital media consumption occurs on mobile devices.
  • Think big, think groups. Social media can offer advocates leverage to encourage their peers to join them in volunteering.
  • Pay attention. Being responsive to the concerns and feedback of your supporters shows that you care. Giving back to advocates will encourage them to do the same for your organization.

Track Advocacy Data

Kickoff the process of turning your advocates into volunteers by exploring what makes them interested in your organization. Find new ways to track those interests in your data collection software. With that knowledge, you can offer opportunities that are in line with the priorities of your advocates. Once they’ve started volunteering, you can also track your advocates’ engagement by adding data sections for things like hours and interaction.

Don’t Be Shy

Go ahead and tell your advocates that you need volunteers! Communicating your needs is most effective when you speak to the individuals that care for your nonprofit. They’re natural supporters of your cause, which means that they’ll be receptive to your organization’s requests. Before publicizing those requests, make sure you’ve developed a clear goal for what you need from your supporters. Having a plan of action will help shape the way that you encourage your advocates to take action.

The more specific your requests are, the better. For example, breaking down volunteer opportunities for advocates into smaller, more definite time slots helps to alleviate the pressure of committing to volunteer. Specificity in your approach ensures that you aren’t laying too heavy of a burden onto your supporters.

Host a Shindig

Nonprofit events are a great platform to get your advocates to start contributing their resources. It’s a great way for supporters to continue supporting in a different way. Events not only offer up an opportunity to volunteer, but they also give your advocates something to talk about. In a group setting, your nonprofit advocates will be able to engage with others that are passionate about the same cause. With their new experiences, they’ll be able to share fresh stories with their friends and colleagues, A.K.A. new potential advocates and volunteers for your nonprofit. It’s a win-win.


The actions of advocates matter greatly to any nonprofit. Their passion supports your cause in an important way. By encouraging their participation in volunteer opportunities, your organization can achieve new potential and greater success.

advocates to volunteers

Claire Shinn

April 19, 2016

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