Recruit an army of volunteers
Enthusiastic and well-trained volunteers make an effective annual fund drive possible. Even when operating at peak efficiency, your organization’s annual fund drive requires too much time and effort for your staff to do it on their own. Volunteers bring energy, enthusiasm, relationships, and talents to the table that help to make your Annual Fund Drive possible.
Many hands make light work
The Annual Fund Drive is like a giant machine and volunteers serve many different purposes. If you can do a good job in matching the right volunteers with the right roles, you can bring them back year after year. Volunteer enjoyment should be high on your priority list because you want people to enjoy working for your organization so they’ll come back and also encourage their friends to take part.
Annual fund campaigns will often use a committee structure that puts specific parts of the campaign under the leadership and authority of different committees. The size and complexity of your campaign will determine the number and size of the committees that will be involved. Leaders of committees should be the kind of people who can recruit their own teams to take on their committee’s assigned duties.
Roles volunteers can play
Campaign Leadership – The volunteer who takes a leadership role should be a person with influence, connections, and charisma. This person will be inviting other volunteers to get involved, getting businesses to take part in your campaign, and working with your staff to plan and manage campaign resources. It’s important that you have the duties clearly written out for volunteer leaders, with expectations clearly explained. People in leadership roles need to be very committed to your organization and have a good understanding of what you do. They will be representing you in the community. Over the years, you should develop a campaign structure where volunteer leaders gain experience and are given greater responsibility. Your campaign chairman should be a person who has worked with campaign previously and was the vice chairman the previous year. This continuity will mean that your leaders already know the ropes when they take command.
Event Planning – If you have volunteers who love throwing parties and have lots of friends in high places, bind them to yourself with hoops of steel. Your kickoff and celebration events will take on a life of their own if you have the right person in charge of this committee. The main components supplied by fundraising staff should be the timeline and the budget, though staff should also be willing to step in if the committee seems to be off track. Volunteers who excel at events will see it as a way to network in the community while doing good and having a good time.
Ambassadors – If your campaign is reaching out to multiple business and civic entities, training volunteer ambassadors will be very important to your success. A level of comfort with public speaking is a must for these volunteers because they will be telling your story to potential donors at businesses throughout the community. You’ll need a number of ambassadors that is proportional to the number of businesses that will be involved. The average ambassador will reasonably be able to talk to five business or civic groups during the course of your campaign. The ambassadors should be broken down into sub-committees with 5-10 ambassadors who check in weekly during the campaign for the sake of accountability. This helps you to ensure that all of your businesses have a personal contact.
Major Gift Volunteers – Major gift volunteers are people with connections and influence in your community. A sense of confidentiality is also a must. Instead of talking in front of large groups at business partners, they will be talking to individuals one on one. Your major gifts committee will do a ‘donor screening’ during which your volunteers will be able to identify donors that they know personally. A good number is 5 per volunteer. They will be provided with personalized information packets and sent to ask their donors to give to the campaign in person. Your major gift volunteers should also be recruited from among donors who are making major gifts. If they aren’t giving at a major gift level, they won’t be able to effectively ask a friend to do the same.
Phone Callers – Incorporating phone calls into your campaign can have a big impact, especially on reactivating lapsed donors. Phone volunteers must be articulate and have a warm pleasant phone manner. They should be the kind of people who make you smile when you talk to them on the phone. As phone campaigns are typically brief but intense (they require a lot of time during the short phone campaign), try to get people who are committed to your organization and have lots of energy. Spending 5 weeknights on the phone can have a huge impact on donations, but it can also wear a volunteer out. Make sure you train them well, take good care of them with food and drink, and encourage them by letting them know the impact of their efforts.
Clerical Volunteers – Your annual fund drive will need people to stuff mailers, deliver posters, pick up donations, and sort participation packets. These are not the most glamorous of jobs, but they make a huge difference to the success of your campaign. And you will find people who want to help that feel more comfortable with this kind of work than doing public speaking or phone solicitation. Don’t neglect these important but hidden duties.