Three Ways to Retain Top Volunteers and Supporters

Three Ways to Retain Top Volunteers and Supporters

Three Ways to Retain Top Volunteers and Supporters

I reconnected with a friend recently. During our communication, I asked about a fundraising volunteer project that I had worked with her on previously. She shared that she was still supporting it and over the years she had raised over $30,000. And then added, But it somehow never seems to be enough (as in, I’m only as good as the latest amount I donated and / or raised)”

This is something that a lot of nonprofits struggle with. How do you convey a sense of urgency to donate/fundraise while respecting the incredible and generous donations/fundraising efforts previously made? This week Caryn Stein of Network for Good shared five ways to recruit passionate volunteers. The list is a great starting point. There are follow-up questions to consider. How do you keep your passionate volunteers engaged? How do you avoid donor fatigue and burnout? How do you highlight an organizational need while respecting previous contributions? Below are three options that may help your organization respect your supporters and ensure that they don’t feel like you’re asking too much or too often.

Segment emails by giving history

Any fundraising appeal should be segmented by giving history. The language and call-to-action needed to retain a gift is different than the message used to move someone up the ladder of engagement to become a first-time donor. Your segmentation doesn’t need to be so finite that you mention the previous donation amount and date – it simply has to acknowledge what their previous support enabled your organization to do and what a contribution during this funding cycle will be used for.

Assign an actual relationship manager

Allocating time for relationship management isn’t easy for many nonprofits. There often isn’t enough time and staff to focus on mid-level supporters. This is a lost opportunity. Too often nonprofits use email blasts to manage their engaged constituents instead of developing a one-to-one relationship. Not every relationship manager needs to have major gift experience and know how to ‘make an ask’. Every employee can have some part in ensuring that quality relationships are formed and sustained. Listening to the supporter and building trust will help continue engagement. Assign relationship managers to supporters and give them the tools needed to preserve those relationships.

Build a long-term plan

As you cultivate a relationship with a supporter, you get an understanding of why they support your cause. As part of this conversation, it’s important to listen to what their interests are. How can they continue to build engagement and find new challenges? Someone who fundraises for your organization isn’t always going to want a new challenge to be just be raising more money. At some point they might like to be more involved with the planning of an event, joining your board of directors, or engaged in a different way. Building a plan and fitting that into your organization’s strategy and communication will help ensure that the individual sticks with you.

These suggestions will help you sustain and grow your relationship with passionate volunteers. And these links will help you keep up to date on news from the week.

  1. Miranda Paquet of Constant Contact shares tips on how to get more engagement from your email list.
  2. Your millennial giving trend link of the week – Mark Hrywna of the NonProfit Times discusses a recent study that states millennial donations and volunteering are influenced by their peer group.
  3. David Cohen of Adweek reviews data on how Facebook users spend their time.
  4. If you’re looking for some inspiration John Rampton of Inc. highlights eight companies that are having a positive impact on their community and the world.

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