Three Reasons Volunteers Are Unicorns

UnicornVolunteers are magical, elusive creatures who, in a culture obsessed with “busy,’ look at their packed schedules and say:

You know, instead of binge watching five seasons of my favorite show online this weekend, I think I’ll donate – yes, DONATE – my time and talents to a cause.

Our organizations all benefit from the selfless time and talent of our volunteers, and yet, when we talk about tracking them in our databases, all of the sudden, the only question that seems to be asked is:

When do you think we can get them to give us money?

I understand why we focus on our monetary donors. These are the people that keep our lights on and our programs funded. However, volunteers are often the link between program theory and program implementation. For example: a $250 gift may sponsor one child in a reading program for a year, but that child won’t learn to read unless someone volunteers to work with her.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many organizations and, in many cases, evolve into some of our most generous donors.

Last week, we talked about how you can track volunteers in your eTapestry database. This week, I’d like to talk about why.

In fact, I’d like to give you three big reasons why your volunteers should be in your database.

1. Volunteers are engaged.
Gallons of virtual ink have been devoted to exploring how to get donors more “engaged” with an organization because an engaged donor is a sustainable donor. The great thing about volunteers is that they are already engaged. They are your “boots on the ground” and they are arguably one step closer to being sustainable.

2. Volunteers are storytellers.
Fundraisers know that nothing is more valuable than a good tug on the heartstrings. Stories are the currency of fundraising and no one has more stories of direct, observable impact than your volunteers.

3.Volunteers are advocates.
In some organizations the words ‘donor’ and ‘advocate’ are interchangeable. Why? Because volunteers are already advocating for you – with their employers, their neighbors, their families, and their friends. People like to share about their volunteer experiences.

The bottom line is that volunteers are already donors. They are giving of their time and their talents. And if you treat them like the sparkling unicorns they are, they will also give of their treasure.

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