Furloughs and layoffs are everywhere, and nonprofits are no exception. But, since you still have a mission to fulfill and services to offer, volunteers offer an interesting opportunity. There are, potentially, more people available, but less time to train, track, and collect volunteers. Sometimes it feels like you need to babysit volunteers. But what if you could look at these prospective free workers like you would consider childcare.
Before we get into the details of the 5 types of Pandemic Volunteers, you need to do a bit of work.
Start by considering what you are not getting done. Then, think about what you are doing that could be done by somebody else (if that person were reliable.) And lastly, how much internal knowledge is required for each task.
Now, consider the 5 types of Pandemic Volunteers:
- Mother’s helper is someone who needs specific tasks but may need to ask a lot of questions, at least at first, to learn the ropes. The good news is if the task continues, they will get better and better. This could be a teenager looking for something to do when camp is cancelled or a volunteer who isn’t always super reliable, but you want to keep interested and connected.
Since you don’t know how much this person will achieve, consider small tasks with short deadlines. A mother’s helper could clean out closets that got left mid-semester or prep materials for your re-opening. Printing, photocopying, and collating are also possibilities.
- Babysitter is someone with some experience, needs guidance for expectations on a regular basis but is mostly independent. Each “babysitter” will come with some expertise that you may be able to use.
For instance, someone who knows Excel can create a list of all current and lapsed $250 donors and provide the lists to “Night Sitters,” “Camp Counselors,” and “Camp Directors.”
- Night sitter is someone who can keep things going and is independent after an initial explanation. This person is used to jumping into new situations and can give you the confidence to sleep through the night because the job is getting done.
A night sitter has been a volunteer for you and/or other organizations and can do things like make calls on your behalf. Provide a script and a list of contacts and that person can help you steward mid-level and entry-level donors while you focus on major donors.
- Camp counselor is someone who can rally the troops and is ready for leadership responsibilities, meaningful tasks, and whom you know is reliable. They may have volunteered or worked with you in the past or can demonstrate their expertise.
Camp counselors can replace you to offer trainings to “night sitters,” “babysitters,” and “mother’s helpers.” And they can be the resource for most questions that would stop other volunteers from moving forward. They can help you steward higher-level donors.
- Camp Director is someone who can act as an employee or colleague. They have the skills that you would hire, if you had the money and time. They can supervise for you, explain tasks to others, organize volunteers and staff alike, have specific skills that you are missing, and are 100% reliable.
Camp directors can help you make sure the trains are running on time. They are volunteers who can help with marketing your services, provide human resource advice, and financial and/or fundraising expertise. You may even rely on these people already. The one problem is that this skill set is hard to find in a volunteer and may have to be a hired as an Interim (aka Fractional) Placement. It would be less expensive than a full-time employee because they could be an independent contractor, but will still add to your costs.
If you would like help thinking through your volunteer strategy, click here to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.
Fundraisers love major donors. How could we not? They provide the necessary funds to keep our nonprofits running. We also love new donors. Bright, shiny and falling in love with our organization. In many ways, these two types of donors re-affirm our devotion to our job (or volunteer) choice. But, what about those mid-level donors?
I am talking about the donors in that range that gets them noticed above the entry-level gifts of $25 or $50 but not quite close to your major gift level. You diligently thank them each year – maybe even 7 times, but they can be so much more valuable to you. Mid-level donors may be the future of your organization.
Understanding mid-level donors
- Consider why they give that amount. Are they…
- Major donors who use this as an entry-level gift to test your stewardship?
- Giving because a friend—maybe one of your board members—asked them?
- Someone who has just increased to this amount.
- Donating to a specific fund or appeal?
- Do you already know them? Are they…
- Volunteers who are showing their support?
- Event attendees who have started to give additional support?
- Friends and/or family of board members?
- How long have they been giving? This can tell you a lot. Let’s say you consider $200 as a minimum, mid-level gift. If…
- It is a first-time gift (that is not part of crowdfunding or event-related*), this often indicates there is a greater gift potential and that they are testing the water with your nonprofit. Your stewardship and acknowledgement practices will be the reason that person continues to give or does not renew and turns to test another organization.
- this is their second gift, they definitely should be on your radar. Donor retention for the win! They may not be ready for a significant upgrade, but they appreciate you and you should definitely let them know that you appreciate them. They may be your future major donors, long-time supporters, volunteers, board members, etc….
- They have given for 5 or more years. Celebrate them as you would a major donor. 5 years at $200 is a $1,000 donor. And consider whether they are ready for an upgrade beyond the 50%+ that you suggest in your annual appeal letters. Depending on their age, they may be prime prospects for a planned gift. And or a monthly gift.
- Why should you care so much about these donors?
- If you had 20 donors who give $200 for 10 years, that would be $4,000 per year or $40,000 over 10 years – assuming you retained each of those donors with no increase nor decrease. How much work have you put into a $40,000 grant that you didn’t receive? These are people who already want to give to you. Again and again.
- Imagine if you moved 50 or 100 of your entry-level donors into this category in the next two years.
In other words, it’s time to focus on these amazing donors. And once you have identified them and their giving habits, don’t forget to create a plan to deepen their engagement. Work to retain their gifts or upgrade them. And stop treating them like the $25 donors that we like, but don’t know enough about yet. (You should know any donors that have been giving for more than a few years but that is a whole other blog post.) Make them feel special and acknowledge them wherever and whenever you can.
As always, if you want help customizing your plan or understanding what these donors lifetime potential may be, email me or schedule a time to talk by clicking here.
*Crowdfunding and event-related gifts should be treated separately. You have the opportunity to convert some of these donors to life-long supporters, but some will only give because they are asked by a certain person for a one-time gift. Acknowledge and attempt to steward but don’t spend too much time on this group.